Compliance is important to any organisation. It ensures an environment where employees can work safely within a successful and professional company.
Any failures in compliance can, at worst, lead to death and injury for employees, contractors and visitors. Even if that’s avoided, it can cause interruptions to production, heavy financial penalties and damage to the company’s reputation.
The current COVID-19 emergency has brought the efficiency of compliance systems more into focus. It has exposed the deficiencies of manual systems and emphasised the need to be able to communicate quickly and effectively with everyone on site. As a result, the value of cloud-based, automated systems has never been greater.
The Problems with Manual Compliance Systems
Manual systems have traditionally been based on paper documents — reams of hard copies stored in folders and filing cabinets around the site and additional copies in share drives. This has led to systems that are unwieldy, time-consuming, difficult to manage and, more importantly do not connect to the workplace when the Contractor turns up to work. This makes it inefficient which could lead to a breakdown in compliance.
This traditional process is dependent on policy and procedure documents that have to be created and approved, then circulated to all interested parties. As circumstances change, documents need to be reviewed, updated and re-circulated. This creates problems:
• The review and sign-off process is time-consuming and cumbersome due to the need to circulate paper documents.
• It is impossible to verify if all interested parties have seen and understood all relevant documents.
• Revisions and updates result in different versions of documents being in various places so there is no one true version at all locations.
• Environmental damage is caused by excessive printing and paper use.
• Information is difficult or impossible to find quickly due to the need to search manually through multiple large files.
The difficulties that a manual system imposes can result in people failing to use it properly. This, in turn, can lead to failures of compliance that pose all manner of problems for your organisation.
Some of these difficulties can be overcome by installing a semi-automated system on a local server. However, this will not be available to everyone, especially those in remote sites, and will not solve all the problems.
The Benefits of Cloud-based Compliance Systems
Using an automated system that’s cloud-based doesn’t remove the need to create and approve policies and procedures but it does make the whole process simpler. Drafts can be distributed and approved electronically so everything works quicker and smoother. And, once established, the system has other benefits:
• All documents are held centrally so there is only one published version that everyone sees.
• Documents can be accessed at any time and from anywhere by an authorised person using a suitable mobile device.
• Full search facilities mean information can be found easily and quickly.
• Urgent safety requests or emergency broadcasts can be communicated instantly by SMS, email or other means to everyone who needs to know, which can be vital during a pandemic or similar situation.
• An Application Programming Interface (API) allows integration with other company systems, enabling the seamless exchange of information.
• Every action is logged so there is complete, real-time auditing of anything that happens, particularly policy and process changes.
• Reduction in paper, printing and storage costs plus environmental benefits as a result.
Converting to an automated, cloud-based Compliance Management Software will take time and money to transfer all information across, learn new techniques and get everything running smoothly. But the investment will be truly worthwhile, resulting in a much smoother and more efficient process, reduced costs, improved compliance and a safer working environment. Online Training Software and Contactless Visitor Management Systems are also important tools to consider during this pandemic times.