A compliance calendar is a critical tool for managing deadlines associated with regulatory requirements, reporting obligations, permit renewals, and internal practices. This article reviews the benefits of a compliance calendar, discusses available tools, and provides a bullet-proof method for developing your organization's compliance calendar.
Benefits Of Compliance Calendar Software
For companies and organizations that have to comply with regulations and laws, compliance calendar software is a must-have. The benefits of compliance software include:
1. Institutionalized Information - An organization's compliance status should not depend on what is in someone's head or a single individual's knowledge. Compliance calendar software puts your regulatory obligations and associated deadlines in a centralized location that is available to anyone in the organization.
"Our Compliance Calendar helps me sleep better. Now I know that if my compliance guy wins the lottery, I can hop into the compliance calendar and see what compliance obligations apply, what has been completed and what is coming due." - Larry, Small Company Owner
2. Improved Compliance - A compliance calendar software helps ensure that your won't forget or overlook a task, especially when the software sends out automated reminders of upcoming due dates. Additionally, a centralized compliance calendar allows anyone in your organization to see what is going to be due and verify that required tasks have been completed.
3. Improved Efficiency - Compliance calendar software can store information on how to complete specific tasks, insights and tips from the last time the task was completed, links to actual documents that need to be completed and more. This makes it much more efficient when it comes time to complete the compliance task. It also makes it much simpler for someone else to pick up and complete tasks.
4. Proactive Compliance - As regulations shift and change, many organizations find themselves in the position of moving from event to event, putting out one fire only to discover a new one. Compliance calendar software offers a way to plan ahead for your organization's compliance needs, gather data, and allocate the resources needed to meet the obligation.
5. Improved transparency - Compliance calendar software increases visibility across your organization and allow you to monitor the completion status of internal and external tasks. As such, management stays informed and can help ensure needed resources are available for upcoming compliance tasks.
Compare Compliance Calendar Software To Other Options
Spreadsheet - Spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets can work well if the number of compliance deadlines and the people responsible for completing the required tasks are limited. However, when there are a lot of tasks or responsible people, organizing the data and maintaining integrity of the spreadsheet becomes difficult.
Email Calendars - Managing your tasks in an Outlook Calendar can work as well. Unfortunately, this approach does not provide a clear bird's eye view of regulatory requirements. This can result in tasks getting overlooked when they're mixed in with birthdays, meetings, and everything else that email-based calendars commonly track.
Compliance Calendar Software - For larger companies or small companies in highly-regulated industries, compliance calendar software is the best way to go. With compliance calendar software, you are able to:
- Manage an infinite number of compliance tasks
- Distribute responsibility for compliance tasks throughout your organization
- Send automated email notifications and reminders when compliance tasks are assigned and coming due
- Escalate notifications when compliance tasks become overdue
- Easily communicate your organization's compliance status, via dashboards and reports
How To Build and Use A Compliance Calendar
Select A Compliance Calendar Tool - Whether it be a spreadsheet, email calendar, or compliance calendar software solution, something is better than nothing. That being said, populating the tool that you choose is going to take some time, so it will be in your best interest to select a tool that best fits your current and future needs.
Develop a List of Compliance Requirements - The goal here is to try to capture all of the compliance tasks that you and your team need to do on a recurring basis. To compile your list, it can be helpful to:
- Review permits
- Review written policies and procedures
- Ask employees what they do and why they do it (if its critical to your success or your company's compliance, it should be included on the compliance calendar)
Populate Your Compliance Calendar - Once know what has to happen for your organization to stay in compliance, that information needs to be added to your compliance calendar,so that it becomes part of your institutional knowledge.
Implement Your Compliance Calendar - After your compliance calendar has been completed, its time to roll it out to your organization. To ensure success, you'll need to:
- Provide training on how to access the compliance calendar, how to complete a task, etc.
- Implement recurring reminders (If the system you selected is able to send out automatic emails, turn this functionality on. If not, setup a schedule when employees should check the compliance calendar to review upcoming tasks/deadlines.
Maintain Your Compliance Calendar - For continued effectiveness, compliance calendars need to be reviewed and updated:
- At least annually
- When personnel or job responsibilities change
- When regulatory or compliance requirements change
- When new permits are issued
- When new processes or equipment are added