25/02/2011

By Jamie Stewart, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Exact Software

As all those running a business will be acutely aware, there is an ever-growing amount of legislation with regards regulatory compliance. The pressure to comply abounds, and impacts all aspects of a firm’s operations. Whether laws relate to the running of an organisation, or how the organisation conducts its relationships with third parties, the penalties for failing to comply can be extremely serious.

Stockholders, lenders, customers and vendors all have complex and numerous legal requirements to meet and, likewise, it is expected that anyone they deal with is able to do meet these also. In particular, there are numerous laws relating to the records that must be kept, how long they need to be held, and the format in which they should be presented and stored. This can affect the entire business — from customer management, through to technical processes and workflow controls.

A compliance strategy is therefore a complex and major undertaking, impacting both the corporate infrastructure, and the way the business functions. Challenges must be overcome, and organisations must have a secure framework of information at the core of their business that can be easily accessed for the purpose of achieving compliance. Naturally, the complexity of this task varies according to the size and focus of the business, and companies shouldn’t underestimate the difficulty in complying with all the legislation affecting them directly.

There are several ways in which a business can ensure that everything needed to achieve compliance is done efficiently and promptly.

o Automate workflows, storage of documents and related materials as much as possible. It is also crucial to ensure that this process is centralised and integrated, as well as being transparent to the organisation, the supplier, and the customer.

o While the process of ensuring compliance can be resource-heavy, the right tools and process can ensure the process is as efficient as possible. Employees at all levels and across departments need to be given the power to help the compliance process without getting in the way of employees performing their job.

o Put systems in place that allow instances of non-compliance to be identified, tracked, and stored effectively, at the same time making it a simple process for stakeholders, including customers and suppliers, to initiate the appropriate corrective action.

The consequences of non-compliance can be disastrous. While fines can be paid, it is the damage to a business’ reputation that is much harder to recover from. The consequences of non-compliance are serious, yet ensuring compliance is only as difficult as you make it.

There are solutions out there, such as Exact’s Synergy, which provide companies with a scalable, -based software solution allowing management of business processes by bringing together every individual, document and activity within the organisation. This allows businesses to make sure that everything relevant to compliance is easily recorded and monitored, meaning employees have to spend less time managing compliance, and more time contributing to the success of the business.

Exact are one of the leading providers of scalable solutions which cover all key business processes, allowing your people to share information and collaborate in real-time on a single platform. As well as helping organisations grow, Exact's solutions consolidate the processes of companies conducting business internationally.

Business on an international scale heightens the need for precise reporting and visibility; Exact offer a solution that is dedicated to giving a company's HQ total clarity on the entire business, from foreign subsidiaries to localised trading silos. With many businesses still performing a lot of tasks manually, or utilising IT systems that don't work together this provides complete process visibility and helps ensure employees work together to add value to the business.

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