Compliance and Learning: Always Audit Ready

Morne Swart

No industry or company is immune to the dictates of legal compliance. It might take different forms and involve different potential penalties, but every business knows that compliance and risk management is a priority. The repercussions from non-compliance are significant, and the impacts can be far-reaching.

Consider these facts:

Managing compliance in a dynamic environment of new laws and changing regulations is daunting, especially in highly-regulated industries with complex rules, internal policies and processes. For example, the recently enacted U.S. Affordable Care Act (ACA) has put compliance front and center for U.S. businesses, insurance companies and healthcare institutions. The ACA is a set of regulations that outline requirements for employee health insurance coverage. The law was designed to roll out incrementally over the course of four to five years, beginning in 2010. Some deadlines have been delayed and additional provisions may be added or modified over the course of the rollout. Organizations must be prepared for, adjust to, and implement these changes.

The ACA is just one example of the many complex regulations with which every organization must comply. Simply put, compliance is difficult, even for organizations that work carefully to prepare for and be in alignment with all applicable rules and regulations.

Are You Audit-Ready?

Human resource departments spearhead most compliance initiatives and must effectively communicate, train, track and report on progress and completion rates. Many organizations still manage compliance with spreadsheets, disconnected systems and inadequate learning management systems (LMS). HR struggles to deliver training at the right time and the right place to meet compliance requirements, monitor training effectiveness and provide accurate and timely reports. Reliance on manual processes and paper-based tracking systems puts the organization at high risk for non-compliance. Errors are inevitable and can mean missed deadlines, employees on the job with out-of-date certifications, and important requirements overlooked. And unless the company can adequately respond to both ad hoc and regular audits with accurate reporting, even the most prepared will fail their audit.

Learning is Central to Compliance Readiness

Learning is at the core of an "always audit-ready" organization, and a learning management system (LMS) is fundamental for a successful compliance program. Through learning – delivered by an LMS that fully supports compliance needs — HR teams can proactively train, increase compliance awareness and behavior, minimize risk and fines, and accurately track and report on compliance activities.

What is a Compliance-Ready LMS?

To proactively manage compliance and help your organization become "always audit ready," compliance information, training and tracking should be integrated into the systems your people use every day, not siloed in the LMS.

A compliance-ready LMS provides:

  • Integration with other systems: Many learning systems only provide access to learning within their LMS. This interrupts your users’ daily flow and results in low usage and missed deadlines. A compliance-ready LMS integrates with the applications your people use every day, such as your CRM system, which increases engagement and compliant behavior. Training is delivered where and when your people are working.
  • An excellent user experience: Involves an intuitive and flexible interface that meets local needs based on language, culture, and branding requirements. Use dynamic audience rule configuration to deliver personalized learning based on unique qualities such as role, tenure, location, upcoming certification deadlines, and policy/procedure updates.
  • Automated delivery of compliance learning: Delivers time-sensitive compliance learning content through configurable rules to ensure completion of mandated activities. Your LMS needs to be flexible enough to track completion by credits, observation hours, or a combination of both.
  • Just-in-time Learning: Delivers training and notifications of regulations, policies and processesto workers quickly and when they need it.
  • Proactive alerts: Reduces administrative burden with automated notifications and reminders of upcoming renewals, accreditations and recertification deadlines.
  • Continuing Education Credits: Manages, monitors, reports on and drives activities based on continuing ed credits. Tracks credit value at the global, national, regional, state or province level.
  • Management compliance dashboards: Provides continual access to current compliance status. Ability to view individual, team or global status and can be configured to meet internal policies and measure against business goals.
  • Audit preparation and e-signatures: Ensures accuracy and integrity of training data Provides both pre-built and custom reporting. Delivers compliance reports that include completions, exceptions, and assessments.
  • Actionable Analytics: Identify and address vulnerabilities, provide suggested next steps

Proactive Compliance Programs are Simply Good Business

Smart business leaders recognize that an investment in compliance programs and technologies represents an opportunity to eliminate the hidden costs of disconnected systems and manual processes, and greatly reduce instances of non-compliance.

It’s impossible to be prepared for everything; even the best companies face the ramifications of mistakes made by a small number of workers. But the right LMS will significantly increase corporate awareness and compliant behavior, minimize risks, costs, business disruption and PR disasters.