Constantly Evolving Compliance Environment
By Sara Hurley, Director-Compliance, Integrys Group
The emerging challenges in compliance are not new, but they are far reaching. Compliance complexity and the increase in volume of regulations are challenging. The requirements that companies need to comply with are expanding quickly in a changing technology landscape where we need to enhance security and better equip our employees with how to identify and address non-compliance.
Although not an emerging compliance challenge, mergers and acquisitions usually result in organizations working with multiple tools and platforms which support compliance. A significant resulting challenge is data consistency and tools being able to talk to each other.
The fix is not a quick solution. Constantly evolving and being vigilant to changes is critical. It is not acceptable to implement business process changes to be in compliance with laws and regulations without monitoring to ensure that the business stays in compliance.
Ongoing Partnership between Business and Compliance
Compliance is critical for all organizations, and reading the news will quickly illustrate what can happen to an organization when they drift from compliance. Communication is critically important to create a link between Corporate Compliance and our Business Partners both internal and external. The frequent communication needs to be open and honest.
"Compliance needs to be genuinely interested in the business that they work in and curious enough in order to ask tough questions"
The relationship between Compliance and the business is an ongoing partnership. Compliance and the business need to understand the rules. Businesses will recognize how the rules impact the day-to-day operations, but Compliance needs to have an appreciation for impact. Imbedding the rules within the business processes takes collaboration and thought. Many times organizations will regurgitate the regulation as a business process instead of imbedding the rules within the business process. Having this partnership between Compliance and the Business Partners ensures compliance is entrenched within the business instead of a cursory compliance program.
Integrys has a decentralized compliance environment. With a small centralized Corporate Compliance staff, compliance resides in the business. Corporate Compliance then partners with the business. The compliance team then ensures compliance concerns are addressed. The Business Compliance Leads work with their business partners on a daily basis. The decentralized model works to ensure that compliance is emulsified throughout the organization and not a function sitting on the top. Corporate Compliance’s role is to work within all aspects of business regarding compliance issues and also offer compliance tools.
Technology as a Tool
Technology can provide transparency. Paper does not. With technology, the organization can see reports that help identify non-compliance. Compliance views technology as a tool to assist in compliance. Once technology is introduced, it is very difficult to extract. Technology protocol can provide a consistent standard for the way a process is completed.
Advice to Fellow Compliance Officers
My advice to fellow Compliance professionals is to partner with the employees not only in trying times but on a daily basis. Understand their needs. There will always be subject matter experts yet gaining a good understanding of the industry you serve will allow you to be a more effective partner who continues to add value to the organization. Compliance needs to be genuinely interested in the business that they work in and curious enough in order to ask tough questions.