Compliance doesn’t have to be complicated.
We know it can feel like a burden, but failing to consider compliance leaves your business exposed. Development costs, damaged reputations and non-compliance fines are just the tip of the iceberg. And with tightening regulation, it’s difficult to know where to begin.
That’s why we spoke to businesses and regulators around the world to find out how to make compliance an asset instead. Bringing compliance teams into development at the right time and keeping lines of communication clear can make all the difference. With the right approach, you can transform your business processes – and your bottom line.
1. Include Compliance from the start
Keeping meetings to only the key players is good business etiquette – but not if it means you miss out a major stakeholder. Whether internal experts or external vendors, compliance teams are often the last to be involved, and it’s an expensive mistake to make. Unforeseen issues can lead to extra development time and delayed product launches. You wouldn’t launch yourself out of a plane without checking the parachute, and you shouldn’t launch a product without checking compliance either.
Compliance should be part of the conversation from the very beginning – not just brought in to tick boxes at the end. This goes for external vendors, too, as without full visibility over your processes, they’ll struggle to advise you effectively. Getting expert input early keeps everyone informed of the law, and helps you get a better product to market, faster. Compliance shouldn’t be seen as a blocker, but a strategic asset to your development process.
2. Open lines of communication
For a busy tech business, engineering hours are precious. Wasting them results in upset engineers, and if development’s not managed properly, a product that’s not fit for purpose.
Keeping clear lines of communication with your team is crucial. Weekly meetings keep everyone in the loop – compliance included – and provides guard rails for the development process before products go to release. Ensuring your product is built correctly first time round saves you headaches down the line and means that issues are caught early. Fixing a wireframe or a prototype is much easier than fixing a live product after all. Create an open forum for feedback, review and iteration and you can be sure those precious hours are being put to good use.
3. Reach out to regulators early
Launching new products in new markets is hard, and being uncertain about the regulation you’re subject to makes it harder. On the one hand, you might forge ahead and find out too late that your product’s not compliant. On the other, you might decide not to put that exciting idea into development because you think – mistakenly – that it won’t come up to code.
It’s easy to find yourself in grey areas as you grow. When you’re not sure what do in the real world, you ask your mom. In the business world, you should reach out to regulators. Receiving a clear answer early can stop you from missing out on a major opportunity - or from making a huge mistake. It also builds rapport with the regulators in your sector. If it sounds simple, that’s because it is: seek out clarification first rather than risking confusion later.
4. Share knowledge across your business
Just because you’ve jumped a compliance hurdle once, it doesn’t mean you won’t have to do it again. Sooner or later, you’re likely to run into the same issues, so it’s important to get into the habit of documenting your processes. Effective knowledge management can be a lifeline when it comes to compliance.
Keep track of the challenges that arise and document the solutions to them. Be thorough - a summary that lists out stakeholders, describes the product, explains the problem and outlines the legal considerations will serve you well as a framework for future projects. Sharing guidance will help your team get up to speed quickly, so legal implications and who to contact are clear.