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What a Compliance Platform Really Is

Leaders across the compliance industry have long worked towards leveraging automated software systems that allow organizations to make data-driven risk decisions with efficiency and ease. Imagine a centralized hub that transforms all of your compliance needs into useful figures with easy-access tools, allowing you to monitor, manage, intervene, and remediate compliance risks with the click of a button. This promise is now a reality for those companies that choose to embrace emerging technologies known as compliance platforms.

The Benefits of Compliance Technology

It is no secret that technology has overhauled the manner in which the world conducts business and, as a result, the manner in which compliance professionals must attain their goals. In fact, government regulatory authorities and enforcement agencies have come to expect that companies integrate modern technologies into their compliance programs to leverage all available industry capabilities. Fortunately, the compliance industry has responded nimbly in adapting to these renewed expectations, but the trend towards automation will only accelerate in the years to come, as innovators continue developing new technology-based solutions.

Nowadays, compliance moves fast. A constant, unending stream of new data is generated across seemingly limitless platforms, sites, forums, and networks throughout cyberspace every day. Every single third party added, conflict declared, watchlist updated, deal struck, or case reported—every new piece of information—could impact your company’s risks, reputation, and bottom line. When so much changes within such a short period of time, it becomes difficult to turn all that data into something meaningful and actionable. Information, of course, is only as good as its relevancy and timeliness. Useful data cannot solely be a collection of disjointed numbers in a report. To the contrary, it must help focus our attention and guide our actions. Today’s era of information bombardment, however, is precisely where automated compliance platforms tend to thrive.

What is a Compliance Platform?

Compliance platforms are structured to scan the risk horizon to spot concerning trends and yield key insights into the company’s various compliance metrics. This provides compliance professionals with key data visualizations that indicate how effectively company objectives are being attained. Compliance platforms excel at grouping and summarizing compliance data meaningfully and intuitively, granting users a variety of methods for viewing and navigating through vast quantities of information.

These data insights succinctly score and bring to life the degree to which various compliance initiatives are being implemented. From there, the data summaries can be further broken down and filtered over multiple levels of granularity, complexity, and detail. For instance, focusing on particular time intervals can provide historical analyses. If your company operates across multiple geographic locations, then the compliance platform can differentiate by each individual facility or display company-wide trends. Moreover, these data capabilities extend to a wide range of compliance subject areas, including:

  1. Culture monitoring
  2. Employee conduct and incident management
  3. Employee training
  4. Third-party risk management
  5. Policy management
  6. Conflicts of interest
  7. Regulatory probes
  8. Program assessments, audits, and reviews.

By integrating a wide range of compliance tasks that were previously maintained separately, compliance platforms aggregate disparate functions to better analyze and interpret the compliance program’s overarching story. The practice of connecting all compliance processes together to gain a full picture of your program is best known as Integrated Compliance Management.

Leveraging Data Across the Organization

Enhanced data visualization and delivery techniques are especially important for conveying key information across company departments, from information technology specialists to senior managers. Compliance personnel frequently coordinate their efforts with human resources, legal, finance, audit, supply chain, accounts payable, and procurement personnel (to name a few), but each of these roles has different needs and requires different degrees of access to compliance data.

For instance, while human resources personnel may be more interested in specific instances of employee misconduct to manage day-to-day employee relations, senior managers will prefer aggregated risk levels and long-term outlooks to effectively steer the ship. Leading compliance platforms can offer these customized data viewpoints with ease, allowing for role-based access controls so differing users can directly plug into the most relevant information. Compliance leaders can then use these data insights to educate board members and executive management on the overall state of compliance across the company.

By reducing communication barriers and connecting information across silos, integrated compliance platforms are making operational models more intricate and inclusive than ever. Next-generation compliance technologies also allow users to design customized data alerts triggered by specified criteria, notifying relevant stakeholders whenever a chosen data metric dips below a set threshold. Compliance platforms can also document and reinforce the results of compliance audits, providing measurable examples of progress and efficacy for government regulators. The very best automated solutions also integrate easily into organizations’ current software systems to provide for seamless functionality. In these ways, the real-time information delivered by leading automated platforms moves the compliance function well into the future.

Advanced Platform Functionality

Interactive capabilities of today’s compliance dashboards provide users with more than just performance summaries. Automated compliance technologies can also monitor compliant and non-compliant processes, identify potential problem areas, and intervene where appropriate—all through one unified portal. Advanced compliance platforms can provide active intervention capabilities, allowing users to remediate and respond to issues immediately from directly within the platform’s interface. For example, compliance dashboard users could require mitigation actions from third parties, issue alerts, request needed documentation, or escalate issues to management directly. Leveraging an automated platform’s data-processing power affords companies the opportunity to reinforce their compliance infrastructures and spot signs of irregularity before they accelerate into real problems.

Perhaps the most critical piece of a successful compliance program involves acting on the data that you gather. Once your company has set its compliance platform into motion, it must operationalize the information it provides into tangible results. Sometimes, compliance dashboards do not reveal all the answers, but they highlight areas of weakness in need of further exploration. As such, compliance platforms often serve as useful guides that help companies understand where to dig deeper, where to ask more questions, and where to focus their efforts next.

At the same time, the mere act of adopting an automated compliance platform inherently frees up time, resources, and human capital to drive necessary improvements. By conserving resources, increasing productivity, driving down operational costs, and permitting access to real-time analytic data, these advanced technologies move the compliance function away from tedious spreadsheets and checklists to let people focus on developing better strategic control systems that protect the organization.

Finding a Compliance Platform

Overall, compliance platforms are powerful tools that provide users with an unrivaled capacity to make even the most turbulent times feel more manageable and predictable. Through powerful data analytics and monitoring capabilities, compliance officers can now identify and mitigate risks before they cause real legal, financial, and reputational harms.

Advanced compliance platforms undoubtedly will continue to drive massive results to proactive organizations, and it is clear that we have not yet reached the technological peak. Eventually, the natural extension of these technologies will lead to fascinating developments that integrate blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other cutting-edge approaches. The organizations that deploy automated compliance solutions report higher rates of internal satisfaction, improved overall performance, and better return on investment than the companies that forego such technologies. The compliance programs that embrace integrated compliance platforms will position themselves to remain well ahead of the compliance curve.

Michael Volkov

Michael Volkov specializes in ethics and compliance, white collar defense, government investigations and internal investigations. Michael devotes a significant portion of his practice to anti-corruption compliance and defense. He regularly assists clients on FCPA, UK Bribery Act, AML, OFAC, Export-Import, Securities Fraud, and other issues. Prior to launching his own law firm, Mr. Volkov was a partner at LeClairRyan (2012-2013); Mayer Brown (2010-2012), Dickinson Wright (2008-2010); Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice (2008); Chief Counsel, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, House Judiciary Committee (2005-2008); and Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee (2003-2005); Assistant US Attorney, United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia (1989-2005); and a Trial Attorney, Antitrust Division, United States Department of Justice (1985-1989).

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