Compliance Program

One of the key elements of any organization that uses Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) regulation tools is a compliance program. It is a crucial part of proper management of the corporation and a sign of well-structured, planned, and organized efforts to regulate all compliance measures. An organized company compliance program can track company operations and even employee training documentation. Another benefit of a well-sustained corporate compliance program is preventing and minimizing regulatory violations that might cause irreversible damage to the company.

The penalty for non-compliance is often severe fines that can seriously cut into the company’s bottom line as well as a loss in trust and reputation.

It’s such a vital consideration that many companies have a dedicated regulatory corporate compliance program in place to maintain visibility and control over legal matters. It is obvious why management needs to make an effort to stay aligned with the law, but there are additional reasons why a business needs a formal system in place:

  • Government guidelines can change over time, and your business must keep up.
  • The issues that cause non-compliance often get worse over time, making bouncing back more difficult the longer you wait.
  • If you work with a capital partner like a bank, there is a high chance the entity will require evidence of your compliance.

How to implement a Compliance Program

When implementing a compliance program a few measures need to be established:

  • Company’s size and type: small business or multi-organization enterprise.
  • Configuration of the Company: Entities and branches. 
  • Operating Environment: Domestic or international. 
  • Industry Type: Financial, Insurance, Energy, Government, Defense, Higher Education, Retail etc.

The program must be managed carefully in an effective way, keeping all necessary precautions in mind to ensure the successful continuation of compliance. It requires the cooperation of all management-level employees, both internal (first party) and the business vendors (third party).

Compliance Program Checklist

A good program is only effective when it affects the way the management and employees make decisions. The idea is to form and nurture habits and a culture of compliance in the organization.
This means: 

  • All the company’s employees know their roles and responsibilities in the company’s compliance tasks and fulfil their duties. 
  • Any IT and data system is designed to be compliant with the latest laws, regulations and industry standards that govern data security, privacy and confidentiality. This means that compliance is a core factor in each of the company’s operations and products.  

Key Elements of the Compliance Program

Every successful compliance program should be made up of three foundational categories:

  • Education
  • Protection
  • Monitoring


An all round well planned, consistent compliance and security awareness training program of the company’s employees is the key to success. The goal is to prevent and mitigate user risk and equip employees with the knowledge needed to detect, prevent or thwart potential threats or cyber attacks.

A compliance training program should keep everyone on the same page regarding security and the importance of compliance, and keep key players updated with the latest information. To stay ahead of threats and vulnerabilities, educating employees to be aware of major pitfalls, common scams, best practices and other critical information will help to create a culture of awareness and a more secure environment.

The compliance training program should be managed by the compliance administrator that is responsible for conducting the training and establishing an annual training schedule for all levels of employees: from staff, senior management, the board of directors, and third-party service providers. This person, or team, should be well versed in security and understand the vital message and lessons that they want to give over. 


Every successful program is a result of a well-organized risk management strategy. The strategy should consider all risk assessments while focusing on the top objective. The top objective is maintaining a risk environment that is within an acceptable risk tolerance level for the organization. In order to achieve this, a deep analysis of the risk must be performed to identify the risks and risk tolerances: borders that in between the risk is permissible. 

Processes, policies and controls must be incorporated into the compliance program. Potentially, GRC tools and platforms should be considered to integrate everything together. Compliance policies and procedures generally are described in a document. They are reviewed and updated as the company’s business and regulatory environment changes. A company’s compliance policies include goals and objectives, and appropriate procedures for meeting those goals and objectives.

The company’s personnel should have access to the policies and procedures needed to perform a business transaction. Employees should be able to access information, such as applicable regulations and sample forms with instructions.

Compliance policies and procedures represent the means to ensure consistent operating guidelines which support the company in complying with relevant laws and regulations.

Once all that is clear it is easy to constitute regulations and controls that effectively monitor the risks.


Each company should conduct compliance monitoring in order to reveal and handle weaknesses and prevent regulatory violations. These weaknesses might be a result of a procedural or a training flaw. In order to achieve better success in the monitoring process, a compliance administrator should be consulted as early as possible when planning the company’s structure and strategy. Companies that have a professional full time compliance administrator are more likely to detect weaknesses on time and remediate them, therefore preventing regulatory violations.

A monitoring procedure usually includes reviews of the following:

  • Internal compliance systems that provide updates of relevant regulations.
  • Operations of third-party providers.
  • Accuracy of documentation and retention procedures.
  • Marketing and advertising documentations ad notices posted.

The reviews play a higher role after unsuccessful compliance audits took place or when facing mergers, new product releases, regulation changes and expansion of the company.

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