10 Quick Tips to Improve Regulatory Compliance (and Avoid Penalties)

February 9, 2021 in Standard Operating Procedures

10 Quick Tips to Improve Regulatory Compliance (and Avoid Penalties)
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The average cost for organizations facing non-compliance issues is $14.8 million, according to a 2017 Ponemon Institute and Globalscape study.

Surprisingly, the biggest financial expense of non-compliance isn’t the penalties—it’s disruption to business. Regulatory agencies can force companies found in violation to completely shut down operations to make necessary changes. 

Which begs the question: why do many organizations fail to meet compliance standards? The simplest reason for non-compliance is disorganization. Large organizations with a presence in several locations, each with its own unique mandates, may struggle to organize binders full of regulatory requirements. 

Lack of leadership, accountability, and operational systems are other common stumbling blocks to compliance. In this article, we’ll share nine steps on how to improve regulatory compliance programs. Let’s begin with a quick rundown of compliance types.  

Types of Regulatory Compliance 

Regulatory compliance, also known as business compliance, refers to adhering to dictated requirements, regulations, and laws. 

Government entities are the most commonly recognized regulators of compliance, both at state and federal levels. Their mandates dictate how organizations should conduct business, interact with customers, and treat employees. 

However, individual regulatory agencies also guide specific industries regarding permits, licensing, certifications, accreditation, industry standards and codes of practice, and client contracts. Before you begin seeking to improve regulatory compliance, it’s helpful to review its many types.

improve regulatory compliance

Regulatory Compliance by Law Examples

Below are U.S. industry-specific compliance regulation examples: 

1. Financial industry

  • Sherman Act of 1890 prohibiting anti-competitive agreements between companies that may create monopolies

2. Technology/Data Security

  • California Senate Bill 1386 requiring organizations operating in California to notify residents of data breaches that are likely to expose personal information

3. Healthcare

4. Civil Rights

5. Employment/Workplace

Other common types of compliances regulations include Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) for food safety, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) for employee benefit plans, and the Social Security Act of 1935 that establishes disabled and retired citizens’ social security systems.

How to Improve Regulatory Compliance

Several factors determine compliance requirements, including business type, industry sector, location, and risk management. Regardless of the type of regulations your organization must follow, the following organizational tips can help improve regulatory compliance:

regulatory compliance tips

1. Assess Your Organization’s Exposure to Regulations 

Determine if your industry is highly regulated and document all mandatory regulations. The requirements set forth by Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are baseline priorities for every U.S. business. 

For example, OSHA’s General Duty Clause enforces worker health and safety. OSHA compliance inspectors look for anything that can cause danger or bodily harm. As global interaction increases, laws and regulations call for increased regulatory compliance and quality management through effective standard operating procedures (SOPs).

2. Write SOP Checklists in Clear Language

Creating SOPs establishes consistency in operations and compliance. SOPs are documented step-by-step instructions for completing task workflows. They also document employee accountability and prevent noncompliance. SOPs should be written in clear language that can be easily understood by everyone across the organization. Avoid communicating legal and technical jargon to improve regulatory compliance. 

3. Digitize Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Today’s technology leaders are ditching paper stacks for digitized standard operating procedures. Software solutions like MaintainX allow businesses to automate digital checklist assignments. : 

improve regulatory compliance

Managers can monitor the progress of compliance tasks completed in real time.

Digital SOPs provide noteworthy advantages over their paper counterparts, including

  • Improving the quality and availability of compliance data
  • Documenting worker accountability with audit trails
  • Preventing noncompliance
  • Avoiding SOP errors and variations
  • Reducing downtime when staff leave or are out sick
  • Reducing new employee learning curves

OSHA, in fact, requires businesses to submit reports digitally. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) promotes Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) requiring companies to distribute new or revised SOPs promptly. Additionally, each employee must validate the receipt and understanding of said procedures. A digitized SOP system supports each of these goals. 

4. Adopt a “Single Source of Truth”

A “single source of truth” for organizational regulatory teams helps keep everyone on the same page. The phrase refers to having only one source of organizational data points that employees can reference easily. This strategy enables organizations to manage high volumes of information with minimal compliance errors. Siloed teams increase the risk of misinformation and noncompliance. 

5. Make Compliance Documents Accessible 

Another simple way to improve regulatory compliance? Make your documented processes and policies accessible. Your employees should have easy access to regulatory requirements at all times to remind themselves of their responsibilities as needed. Scroll to the bottom of this article to learn more about how digitized SOPs and software can help. 

6. Centralize Employee Communication 

Organizations should adopt centralized employee communication policies to minimize the risk of information getting in the wrong hands. It also makes it easier for information to flow between management and task-based workers. Many offices use the connected workforce software Slack for their internal communication needs. Other common workplace messaging platforms include Microsoft Teams and Chanty. If you’re looking to combine work order compliance software with instant messaging, check out MaintainX:

connected-workforce messaging

Our CMMS app allows team members to instant message one another from both desktop and mobile devices. The platform also features work order commenting that further ensures important communications stay organized within digital audit trails. The best part? MaintainX’s basic plan, which includes unlimited team messaging, is always free.

7. Update Compliance Policies Annually 

The secret to regulatory compliance is continuous improvement as the organization grows, expands, or merges. New risks are always present with changes to business structures and should be mitigated. Updating compliance policies annually helps reduce any associated vulnerabilities and risks. 

8. Perform Compliance-Training Needs Assessment 

Providing training to guard against every potential compliance issue can get expensive. For this reason, companies should perform training needs assessments to avoid wasting time teaching employees what they already know. These assessments can identify current levels of competency, skill, and knowledge of required standards. 

9. Hire Experienced Attorneys

As they say in law, ignorance is no defense. Overlooking the smallest details ends up crippling some organizations. Consult a legal advisor to ensure you’re compliance with all local and federal requirements. When sourcing advisors, choose a professional experienced with your industry regulations. 

10. Choose User-Friendly Software to Improve Regulatory Compliance

Document management is, perhaps, the largest hurdle in regulatory compliance. Several different technology systems are available to streamline data collection. Popular options include Compliance Management Software, Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS), and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software

regulatory compliance software

Compliance management software tracks, monitors, and audits whether business processes are aligned with applicable laws, organizational policies, and consumer standards.

Alternatively, both CMMS and EAM data management tools help ensure compliance tasks are completed. These types of software provide a centralized database to track asset information, perform safety inspections, and audit compliance with regulations. Factors to consider when evaluating software include user-friendliness, scalability, customer support, and online reviews. 

Improve Regulatory Compliance & Standard Operating Procedures

The bottom line: regulatory compliance requirements exist to keep stakeholders safe, businesses profitable, and environments protected. The key to improving regulatory compliance is getting organized with standard operating procedures. However, implementing efficient compliance processes without the right software can be time-consuming.

One of the best general compliance software platforms to help achieve compliance automation is MaintainX..Our CMMS allows managers to create standard operating procedures, pull historical records, and generate compliance reports within seconds.

Real-time insights make teams more agile, productive, and accountable. And the software makes it easy to update existing documents with continuous improvement requirements. Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, we’re confident your team will love our user-friendly platform.

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