There are two Formula One cars on a racetrack.
One has brilliant aerodynamics and a 965 BHP engine, but its brakes don't work.
The other car's aerodynamics need improvement. And, at 850 BHP, its engine is less powerful than that of the first car. But the brakes have just been checked and work perfectly.
Which car would manage the fastest lap?
On paper, it's the more powerful, more aerodynamic car. Except it has dodgy brakes, so the driver will have to go around the track relatively slowly to make sure he doesn't lose control.
By contrast, the second car's driver can press down on the accelerator as much as he wants, because he can rely on the brakes to do their job when needed.
It's an apt analogy for compliance.
It's hard not to feel like the continuous, rapidly shifting onslaught of regulations gets in the way of doing business. But, far from being a "business prevention department", compliance is the glue that allows businesses to win customers' trust, deliver excellent service, and take advantage of new opportunities.
It's not compliance that's the issue, but how we do it. Or, to wrap up our analogy, the problem isn't that cars have brakes, it's that we use outdated methods to keep them in good nick.
Ask regulated businesses about their biggest compliance challenges and, chances are, you'll get some version of the same answer: "There's too much to do, and we can't cope."
There are many statistics that support this view. Between March and April 2020, for example, businesses had 3,000 regulatory updates to deal with. But the compliance workload was huge even before the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, businesses received 200 regulatory updates a day, compared to just 10 a day in 2004.
That said, the size of the workload is only one piece of the puzzle. For many organisations, the bigger problem is that their policies and procedures are scattered everywhere, buried in spreadsheets, siloed documents, and email trails dating back years. This adds more complexity to compliance's already difficult job.
It's hard enough to keep up with a constant stream of regulatory updates. It's even harder to:
Clearly, this piecemeal approach creates logistical issues and increases the administrative burden.
More to the point, policies and procedures are never once-and-done deals. They're living documents and, so, need to be easily accessible and easy to update.
There's value in having self-contained documents from which staff can get the lowdown on what's expected of them. But, in today's compliance landscape, it's also important to be able to look at the bigger picture. And that's where smart, connected documents come in.
With modern technologies like ClauseMatch, compliance teams no longer have to look at documents in isolation and make connections manually. These tools can automatically map related paragraphs — even in different documents — identify relationships between policies, and show you how changing one of them affects other policies.
This has a number of benefits.
For starters, compliance teams can home in on the meat of new rules and regulations and understand how they'll affect their organisation more quickly. This slashes the time it takes to achieve compliance and, in turn, the extent of the workload.
More significantly, if compliance teams no longer have to spend thousands of hours doing busywork like tracing old documents, figuring out the relationships between them — or why there are two seemingly up-to-date policies that directly conflict each other — regulatory change will no longer catch them on the back foot.
Instead, they can tackle compliance proactively in a way that helps move the organisation forward.
Nobody looks forward to managing spreadsheets, chasing up senior management to sign off on policy changes, or plowing through hundreds of policies to figure out what needs to be refreshed. The good news is that technology can handle most of this work.
Having smart, connected documents allows compliance teams to automate time-sucking tasks while seeing the full picture. Which means they can stop treading water and work hand-in-glove with front office teams to identify new opportunities, make the most of them, and gain the edge over the competition.
Why take things slow, when you can put the pedal to the metal and trust that the brakes will do their job?
Join our webinar on the 6th of October where we will discuss this more in detail with GRC Pundit Michael Rasmussen.