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3 Ways Compliance Teams Will Drive Business Continuity Transformation

Emily Cash |

COVID-19 exposed how many companies weren’t fully prepared to effectively, let alone efficiently, manage their enterprise through an event that had such a tremendous global impact.

Many discovered that they needed to quickly pivot in order to be able to successfully fulfill client requests and manage newly remote employees.  Yet they found that the tools and plans they had in place were woefully inadequate.

As we move through this crisis and start to think about “what’s next?”, it’s the compliance, ethics, and risk professionals who have a real opportunity to drive the transformation of their enterprises.

There will be many changes to Business-As-Usual (BAU) processes, and while many might err toward what’s most convenient in making those changes, risk and compliance teams will be there to guide their organization into practices that are not only agile, but also secure and compliant.

Here are three ways risk and compliance teams can drive Business Continuity Transformation™ across their enterprises, in order to not only recover from the impacts of COVID-19 but position themselves for success in times of either stability or crisis.

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Secure communication channels

You may think you have the tools you need to clearly communicate with your employees: email, Google Drive, Sharepoint, Zoom, and all the rest that are springing up right now. But emails get buried and shared drives can quickly become overwhelmed with document drafts and versions – and that’s without being in the middle of a pandemic!

But in a time of crisis when things can change not just by the day but by the hour, streamlined communication channels throughout your organization are imperative.

This is especially true if you need to verify that employees have read or attested to the communication that was sent – whether that’s a new work-from-home policy, expense policy, IT security form, and so on. Additionally, there are going to be a lot of questions and requests from employees; how do you manage the volume of requests in an organized fashion or requests that may involve sensitive employee data?

Compliance teams can assist departments like HR and IT by helping them choose solutions that are secure, provide a single source of truth, and ensure compliance with how information is collected and how policies are attested to while being easy to implement and simple to use for increased adoption across the enterprise. An investment in improved, more secure communication channels is one that has an immediate pay-off with long-term benefits.

Agile, centralized compliance

Many organizations had to figure out (or are still figuring out) how to maintain compliance requirements with employees now working from home. Given the transition to WFH was so sudden for many businesses, simple processes that took only a few minutes to complete were suddenly impossible because they involved some sort of manual process or access to an on-premise database.

Shortcuts were developed and acted on for weeks, opening the enterprise up to considerable risk since, unfortunately, regulators and auditors won’t find “because pandemic” a forgivable reason for noncompliance, especially if that noncompliance involves customer data.

Compliance teams, partnering with IT and legal, can develop obligation and regulatory management strategies for right now that improve agility for the enterprise into the future. Having a database of risks from all different departments across the enterprise in one central spot is a great start.

Compliance teams can have a transparent view of all the risks the enterprise faces and the actions needed to take not only prove compliance but also prevent incidents.  And if there are new obligations and risks to track (which there will be!), those can be added to the database so the compliance team can be on top of them.  That way, they can empower and educate the enterprise about how to maintain compliance even in the most stressful of situations.

Automate manual processes to ensure data privacy 

Processes that rely on cultural knowledge, physical movement of paper, and/or email are almost impossible to adapt during rapid or constant operational changes.

These processes, while once fine with employees grouped together in an office environment, are in the work-from-home era being suddenly opened up to risky shortcuts that compromise sensitive or mission-critical business information: scanning a document at a public printer, for example, or saving client information to a personal computer, just to name a few. Once again, compliance teams can encourage agility while still maintaining compliance.

Business Continuity Transformation

What is Business Continuity Transformation™?

BCT is about applying specific strategies, technologies, and techniques to evolving and expanding an enterprise’s capacity to continue BAU during crises and disruptions, while optimizing performance during periods of normalcy.

By installing a BCT framework that not only addresses immediate needs but embeds persistent agility across an enterprise, you can be better prepared to tackle both present-day disruptions and build “proactive resilience” for anticipating future challenges.

Download the BCT brochure →

A secure, central repository to hold important and sensitive data assets, combined with a comprehensive inventory of non-IT controlled but operationally essential spreadsheets and EUCs are both vital to ensuring compliance in our evolving world.

Compliance teams can work with different departments to ensure that the “shortcuts” they’ve developed are actually automated processes that securely transfer assets and data in and out of secure repositories and communication channels. Best practices and compliance safeguards can be built into these processes, so they’re safer from the start. Plus, by automating many of these manual processes, not only is the compliance team mitigating risk, but they’re driving the organization forward to a more nimble future.

If you want to learn more about how organizations are empowering their compliance teams to lead them into the future, register for our upcoming virtual event: The Future of Compliance: A Virtual Summit. Governance, risk and compliance management luminaries will join us online to share insights and answer your questions about how risk and compliance professionals can lead the way in sustaining business continuity today – and ensuring it for tomorrow.