The point of this article then is to applaud those compliance professionals who do take time to plan out the year ahead; and more importantly to encourage those who don't, to do so. It's a worthy exercise that will pay big dividends throughout the year. And, depending on the size and complexity of your operation, it's typically something that can be accomplished in a matter of hours.
One of the most popular things I did at my last corporate stop was to hold my infamous "Blue Sky Meeting". The meeting, generally held in early January, was always off-site away from the phones, other competing meetings and e-mail. All of my direct-reports (managers and supervisors) were in attendance and we would always start the meeting the same way; by wiping the slate clean and then contemplating (and in some cases debating) what the utopia of compliance programs would look like. What tools or resources are needed? What opportunities do we have that we are not currently exploiting or taking advantage of? In some of those meetings the white board we were using would be full of new ideas or techniques we could employ to streamline our business while being more compliant in the process. We accepted the fact that we would not be able to implement some or all of the ideas without additional funding or resources. But, in some cases we also identified opportunities to make minor adjustments without necessitating or requesting additional budget.
The bottom line is, that for the cost of one day spent discussing strategies and potential opportunities, the team generated an exhaustive "Opportunities List". Then, when challenged by executive leadership on how we could trim expenses or be more productive the Opportunities List was the first thing consulted. Over time, most of the items on that list were either implemented or removed because they weren't realistic. But the list served us well as a road map for improving our levels of compliance while enhancing productivity and for being well-prepared for whatever the year ahead offered.
So as the New Year begins we wish you well in your compliance objectives and endeavors for 2016. If you are in a supportive environment that enables the kind of free-thinking described above; I highly encourage you to take the time necessary to flesh out your ideas in a formalized way. On the other hand, if you are in an atmosphere or environment that seeks to suppress such activity, or time and ongoing work pressure just doesn’t allow it, I would encourage you to touch bases with our team at Trade Innovations. We have years and years of experience in working with companies to improve their compliance programs and to bring a little creative thinking to the table. Happy New Year to one and all!
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