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Boost Operational Efficiency and Compliance Scores Using Data and Technology

Luder Milton, Chief Compliance Officer and Joshua Graham, Compliance Data Analyst, Farm Credit Mid-America
Luder Milton, Chief Compliance Officer and Joshua Graham, Compliance Data Analyst, Farm Credit Mid-America

Luder Milton, Chief Compliance Officer and Joshua Graham, Compliance Data Analyst, Farm Credit Mid-America

Regulatory change is constant.  Consequently, the compliance team has to be lightning fast and agile to keep up with those changes.  Usually, this means compliance will add head count or just ask existing personnel to do more while continuing to operate the same way it’s always been done. The default calculation at most companies is More Work = More People. There is another way to support the organization without unnecessary and costly hiring. In these circumstances, compliance leaders can benefit from partnering with their technology colleagues, working together to find the intersection of compliance, technology, and efficiency. 

The intersection between compliance, technology, and efficiency is not always easy to find – and it moves.  In the past, compliance monitoring and testing meant manually gathering data from parts of the business scattered in many different systems that were hard to manipulate and which did not speak to each other.  Sometimes this meant the compliance department had to get IT involved to get the right data from the right system. Once the testing was complete it become another burden to maintain a testing audit trail and meet other documentation expectations. Lastly, “operational inertia” often takes over once a process is established, insuring the practice will continue on the same way for years. Difficult data mining, reporting and documentation can slow down the compliance team’s response time. To get faster, compliance leaders will be tempted to add more people. However, if we pause and focus our efforts on thinking differently, there may be another way.

 The competitive marketplace will not be forgiving to companies that omit continuous improvement from their charter 

First, consider how technology is used in today’s compliance world.  Software, along with machine learning and artificial intelligence, has built compliance controls into the operations team’s software platform while also providing stronger reporting tools.  Where there are challenges with an existing process, adopting a new platform that properly accounts for compliance can allow an organization to leap ahead in compliance and efficiency much faster than simply adding additional people. Of course, organizations will not always be able to overhaul their software.  In that case, company leaders could start small, and work on tying software together in the organization while using less expensive, yet powerful reporting tools to act on this data.  Third party reporting tools are light years better than they used to be, especially where the data is set up correctly.  Strengthening compliance reporting can give the entire organization powerful insights into company performance that were not previously available. With the right technology partners, leaders can find inexpensive ways to access and present data that was previously available, just hard to access.

Secondly, compliance and technology leaders can partner to assess current processes for opportunities to increase efficiency and performance.  Establishing a regular cadence to evaluate established processes for enhancement can lead to changes that fold in new technology or methods to improve compliance scores while boosting efficiency. As software options and organizations grow, new ways become available to do the same function. Even in the unlikely event that no opportunities are identified; the effort will still benefit the company by encouraging employees to be on the lookout for innovative ways to improve. New ways of doing old procedures also typically reduce mistakes. Leveraging technology to improve production while driving down compliance issues and inefficiency will always be an easy sell to the Board. Although the process to get there can require up-front investments, maintaining a technology-focused continuous improvement approach to Compliance is essential to growth. The competitive marketplace will not be forgiving to companies that omit continuous improvement from their charter.

Ultimately, the goal is to allow the business to focus on running its operations efficiently and effectively. Technology should be a seamless, invisible gate way that promotes this objective. Using the right tool the right way, a company may navigate through challenges (whether compliance-related or otherwise) effortlessly. Harnessing technology and automation should lead directly to a reduction in costly errors, improved customer experience and compliance scores, all while facilitating collaboration within the organization. Simply put, teams with efficient processes and better data are going to be more productive and are more likely to attain the organization’s strategic goals.

At the core, a successful modern compliance department will have close collaboration with IT. Regular cooperation between these teams will be essential in improving performance and enabling smart growth.  As organizations grow, they must grow technologically as well.  Growing together, the Compliance and IT teams can lead the organization to the pleasant intersection of compliance, technology, and efficiency.

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