Organisations are under an ever increasing amount of scrutiny. Today, there are countless government regulations, industry standards and company procedures that have to be met. In fact, industry experts suggest that a global organisation can face up to 15,000 separate regulations that mandate the specific handling of information.
While the high profile failures of companies such as Enron and Lehman Brothers has led to more stringent financial and data protection regulations worldwide, regulatory compliance laws and regulations such as Dodd-Frank Act, HIPAA, ISO and FISMA all impose their own approaches to record keeping and auditing.
Companies are aware that poor information management and non-compliance carry heavy penalties and can lead to lost business and reputation, financial penalties and even prison sentences.
In some industries, failing an auditor’s inspection can lead to an organisation’s operations being suspended until corrective action is taken. Today, an organisation doesn’t just need to comply, it must be seen to comply.
Achieving compliance requires the execution of best practices without error as well as proving that the organisation has done this through accurate information.
Information Governance and Regulatory Compliance
Although different in strategic outcome and content, regulations – whether government, financial or industry – share common elements:
- Governance structure
- Assured and audited delivery
- Ongoing measurement of compliance effectiveness
- Internal audits and corrective measures
- Records keeping
- Process management tools
- Compliance reporting
Given the over-arching nature of many regulations, it is not enough to simply implement policies and procedures. An Information Governance programme is required to overcome organisational, functional and process ‘silos’ in order to reduce risks and facilitate effective tracking, monitoring, reporting and auditing.
While often seen as a cost to the business, Information Governance should really be thought of as providing organisations with the opportunity to utilise regulatory compliance on order to drive their competitive advantage.
The Benefits of ‘Active Compliance’
The concept of Active Compliance has arisen from the understanding that the process of compliance means an organisation is already committing to industry best practices. Committing to continuous improvement, granularity and transparency enables an organisation to quickly identify areas for improvement and determine where investments can yield the best return.
The processes of automation and standardisation inherent in a Information Governance programme do not just drive down costs, they can also identify areas of compliance where small gains in business performance can deliver stronger market performance.