Using Compliance as a Competitive Advantage
“Companies should be able to turn the necessity of sharing information with the outside world – what regulation is all about – to their competitive advantage,” says IT specialist Conrad Thompson. Thompson was speaking with Alan Cane of the Financial Times.
I agree. Using compliance as a competitive advantage is a great idea. Too many organizations are reactive to regulatory requirements. Interesting, because regulations aren’t going away. They’re growing. According to a September 2011 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee report on federal regulations, there are 4,257 regulatory actions in the pipeline and the number of regulatory employees is “expected to reach an all-time high of 291,676 in 2012.”
Whether you’re a manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer, complying with existing and pending regulations directly affects your bottom line. So why not flip the situation around? Instead of looking at compliance as a painful thing that needs to be done because of external forces, you can be proactive and make it part of your business plan. Don’t view compliance as laborious, because if you do it right, you’ll actually be saving time and energy. Think of regulations not as a set of rules, but as a roadmap to an effective organization.
“Regulators are not there to catch you,” Cain writes. “Their role is to ask: Are you running your business properly? Do you have the right controls in place? Are you dealing properly with customer complaints? These are all things that companies should be doing for themselves.”
Being compliant revolves around the documentation of critical business processes and procedures. You need the ability to provide documentation in a timely fashion to outside constituencies. But you can also use this as an opportunity to take your organization from the world of slow, paper-based processes to the world of real-time information and efficient automated processes. So how do you do all that?
Start by making all the information your organization uses available across the enterprise in a central repository. When employees can find the documents and data they’re looking for with the click of a mouse instead of searching for paper, they become more effective. And the ability to view information within processes in real time makes complying with regulations easy.
So don’t be reactive to compliance. Get ahead of it. And your competitors. I challenge you to become “ultra-compliant,” because if you do, regulations become nothing more than a checkmark on a list. Instead of spending time trying to comply with them, time can be spent creating new business. That’s how you leverage compliance as a competitive advantage.