If you are involved in the world of business regulation, 'planning for it' means building a compliance calendar that is customized to meet the needs of your organization. Compliance calendars track and organize important dates and deadlines associated with critical regulations, reporting obligations, industry filings, permits and licenses. At a glance, interested stakeholders can see which compliance obligations are on the horizon, which regulatory agency requested these reports and who among your workforce is responsible for preparing the report, among other things.
In order to gain the full benefit of compliance calendars, it is important to develop a calendar template. Calendar templates standardize the format of your calendar, making it easier for the compliance team to drop in information and easier for readers to understand the extent to which the compliance initiative will affect their jobs. Below, we review some of the advantages of using a compliance calendar and give some helpful advice on how to start building your calendar template.
Three Benefits of a Compliance Calendar Template
- Take a proactive approach to compliance obligations.
- Ensure that the compliance process is transparent
- Centralize compliance management of international operations
Building Your Compliance Calendar Template
- Before you begin. Any top-tier compliance management system will include options for customizing and automating your compliance calendar. Most feature easy-to-use calendar creation tools that allow you to map out your upcoming compliance obligations and make detailed plans for their completion. But before jumping into the template building software, it is wise to sit down with compliance officers, your legal team and any other interested stakeholders to review your current compliance manual. This is the time to ensure that any new or updated regulations are fully addressed by company policy. This meeting can also serve as an opportunity to review the way policies in practice match the guidelines set forth by the manual and suggest any edits or procedural changes.
- Determine your calendar headings. At this stage of your compliance calendar construction, it is helpful to strategize which calendar headings are going to be most useful for your organization. Common calendar designations include Current Activity or Current Action, which provides a brief title for the compliance obligation under consideration.
Following this label, one would expect a heading along the lines of Required By or Reporting Body. The idea here is to clearly indicate the regulatory agency or internal organization department to which the calendar entry is targeted.
Once these parameters are set, it is important to name a Responsible Person or Responsible Department for each compliance activity so that accountability for each initiative is clearly understood.
The next heading, and perhaps one of the most important ones, is the deadline designation. If the particular compliance issue in question has a recurrent deadline, then it can be very beneficial to note whether it revolves on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. If you are using automated alert procedures, you may want to gauge how often the person responsible should be notified of upcoming compliance deadlines and how much lead-time such a person would realistically need to fulfill his or her duties.
Finally, if your compliance procedure includes independent verification for actions taken, it is useful to include Reviewed By, Sent To and Filed headings, providing opportunities for those individuals responsible to initial or otherwise document the initiative's status toward completion.
It is important to note that the headings listed above are simply suggestions based on the organization of common compliance calendar templates. Your specific calendar may vary by the needs of your organization or industry. These variations point to the need for customization options when considering any third-party compliance software solutions.
- Consider calendar access. For your calendar to be truly useful, all affected parties need to be able to consult it and manage their time and activity accordingly. Once you arrive upon the basics of your compliance calendar template, give some thought as to how you will distribute this information to the rest of your organization. Though editing the calendar may be reserved for the chief compliance officer, at the very least, the persons responsible should be given access to the information, as well as any manager or team leader who would verify their work. Other organizations view compliance as an activity affecting every employee, and may make some aspects of their compliance calendar available to the wider employee population.