Whether you zero in on compliance in the Philippines or zoom out to the global regulatory environment, a lot of issues were raised in the last few months of 2017, which most probably will spearhead a lot of change.

In most cases, however, regulatory change can present real challenges and risks for entrepreneurs and growing businesses. As you expand into new territories, or offer new products and services, the number of rules that apply to you increases and, sometimes, contradicts one another.

In 2018 companies will need to keep these challenges at the forefront of their annual planning. Here are some ways companies should be engaging with the need for compliance in this (still) new year:

  1. A unified compliance strategy 

Gone are the days when compliance was the responsibility of siloed departments. In today’s intense regulatory climate, it’s critical to have your whole team committed to compliance strategy. Look at Volkswagen: Having skirted compliance with various US agencies as part of its emissions scandal, acknowledged in 2015, the car company did a turnabout and brought on a new chief compliance officer, Kurt Michels.

Michels captured the new spirit of compliance culture at Volkswagen when he said, on the Volkswagen Group’s web site’s “New Code of Conduct”  page: “We all share responsibility for compliance with the existing rules.” He then went on to say that the role of compliance teams and policies is “to provide help, guidance and reassurance, especially in difficult situations.”

In order to help carry out such a vision at your company, your compliance team needs to be fully integrated with other workgroups, to ensure the best support possible for preventing costly errors. By doing so, companies can avoid the kinds of mistakes that even giants like Volkswagen made due to a poor compliance culture.

  1. Compliance platforms to the rescue

Anyone who has managed compliance knows that the accompanying technology is frequently inflexible, and that legacy software may not meet the unique needs of the business.

That’s why more and more companies are turning to platforms that can house all of their compliance data and management efforts in one place.

We are presently evaluating Integrity Platforms that are built on the premise that compliance efforts should be more visible to the entire team, in order to keep key players in the know. As companies gain access to better compliance technology, they may be able to detect and solve problems sooner. 

  1. Forward thinking to head off potential risks

We’ve become accustomed to reading about scandals in today’s news headlines. Those scandals frequently end up costing companies millions in lawsuits and government penalties, while damaging their reputation with customers, business partners and the general public. The sad thing is that most of the problems involved are completely avoidable.

With compliance management—from data privacy to cybersecurity, from quality control to anticorruption—becoming more and more important for any kind of
business, it is essential to talk about designing a compliance program that’s proportional to the company’s risks. The concept makes sense, but still raises the question: What, exactly, does a “proportional” compliance program look like?

You can easily do too little to manage your compliance risks—or do too much. Compliance officers must find the balance that manages risk well and keeps senior executives, business units protected and regulators happy.

A great example of the challenge can be found in data-security control audits that are tailored to assess a wide range of security practices, and they’re derived from five basic trust principles: security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy.

  1. Making your values known

To successfully navigate the regulatory environment and deliver on core values, companies need to make compliance a priority in 2018. In many organizations, compliance has a bit of an image problem and is thought of as a ‘crisis-intervention team’ that simply waits for something bad to happen.

In reality, the affirmative effort of leadership in compliance and the technology they use helps to prevent regulatory pitfalls.

By empowering compliance teams to be a more integral part of operations, companies can develop a stronger culture that will help prevent mistakes, protect employees and respect the rules in regions where they operate.