There is an odd and useful phrase that applies rather well to the process of evaluating compliance dashboard software: “the process of discernment.” It speaks to the space between knowing and not knowing, when you are weighing options, exploring cause and effect, and considering potential risks, all of which are highly applicable to compliance. In addition, the verb discern carries with it the idea that the answer to your problem is not always obvious. It takes some searching; it requires some digging around or hunting for clues, some mulling over. This is not the phrase for snap decisions or gut reactions. Instead, the process is reserved for important matters that will have a lasting effect.
This phrase is borrowed from the world of priests and ministers, where it describes the deep and thoughtful process of coming to an important decision, such as whether to enter the priesthood or not. It is employed here to suggest that some big decisions, like finding the right dashboard to manage your compliance initiatives, require thought, time and insight.
Though it is surely not the most important decision you will make for your company, it is also true that the right compliance dashboard software could save your organization substantial money in the long term, and maybe even help keep it out of legal trouble. When a business takes advantage of the full array of services that compliance dashboard software packages offer, the right package can help it avoid costly fines, embarrassing penalties and even the possibility of criminal charges. So, this is not the place for snap judgments. Better to know what you want from such a system and actively seek out software packages that can be delivered to your specifications.
That said, with so many companies offering these products, how can you set one apart from the other? How can you make an informed decision? What should you look for in your next software purchase? And, with that, we enter into our process of discernment…
Understanding the Compliance Dashboard Software Function
So, let’s start at the very beginning, just in case there are any misunderstandings about the actual function of a compliance dashboard. In a nutshell, a compliance dashboard is a software solution that offers a complete overview of your organization’s compliance initiatives in an easy-to-use, interactive display.
The interactive capabilities of today’s compliance dashboards provide users with more than just a summary of performance. Dashboards help bring together disparate data sources to tell the story of a compliance program or to identify a potential problem with compliance mandates. Dashboards provide a way for users to gather and interpret data, flag deviations or anomalies, and react to areas of noncompliance efficiently and transparently.
So, what do you worry about from a compliance perspective? Or, more to the point, what should you be worrying about? The answer to that question is going to be different for every business, depending on industry, size, business structure and a long list of other variables. If you need help narrowing down your potential worries (or uncovering the worries you didn’t even know about), try consulting with your Chief Compliance Officer and/or your General Counsel. Chances are, they are worried about things that haven’t been on your radar at all.
The Necessity of Customized Risk Management
In all likelihood, their answers will always come back to risk. Not to generalize, but those professionals get paid to worry about the risk companies take on and the possibility that said risk will escalate beyond the organization’s capacity to respond. So, when you are comparing potential compliance dashboards, you want to find something that can process and analyze the types of risk most common to your company. Or, in other words, look for software programs that allow you to customize their functions to suit the needs of your individual organization.
Now, understanding that each risk will manifest itself in company-specific ways, let’s take a look at the most common types of risks you will want your dashboard to handle. On his blog Radical Compliance, Matt Kelly identifies four common areas of concern when it comes to risk and compliance. These are compliance challenges that tend to surface in all companies to one degree or another.
Four Common Risk Areas
- Supply Chain Misconduct. Think about your vendors. Do you work with vendors who have unclear beneficial owners? Can you be certain that your vendors have undergone anti-bribery training? Have you completed a due diligence checklist for any new vendors you may have acquired?
- Employee Misconduct. Within your workforce, has your company experienced any whistleblower allegations, fraud allegations or allegations of retaliation? Do you have a handle on your policies for travel and entertainment expenses? How closely are those followed and enforced? What percentage of your workforce has completed compliance training?
- Regulatory Probes. How many investigations are currently open, and how close are they to resolution? What potential penalties or damages are you currently facing? What are the patterns of these probes? Think in terms of geography, or sectors within the company, or the overall nature of the problem. Might multiple probes in similar areas point to larger structural problems?
- Data Security. How is your company positioned in terms of customer data usage and storage? When was the last time your organization completed a data audit?
The Next Steps of the Process
Once you have a clear sense of your organization’s compliance needs and shortfalls, you can then approach the purchase of a compliance dashboard from an informed position. You will be much less likely to be wowed by bells and whistles unless the sales representative can demonstrate how those bells can help your specific needs.
In addition to the product’s potential performance, it is essential that you get specific information regarding training and implementation. Does the dashboard vendor offer onboarding options to help you establish their product? Do they offer in-person training sessions? What are the details of their support services post-sale? Their tool may be wonderful, but if they cannot help you use it successfully, then it does you no good.
To learn more about compliance dashboard software and how to choose the best one for your organization, contact a Blueprint representative. Our experts can guide you through this decision and help you along in your process of discernment.