Your team works hard all year to run a successful and legitimate business. You mind your p’s and q’s, dot all your i’s and cross all those pesky t’s. Your bottom line is in good shape, and all your licenses are up to date. The folks at OSHA love you, your HR department is a poster child for HIPAA, and by all industry standards, you are outstanding.
Now, as you report this back to your investors and potential clients, you want to brag a little bit. Or, conversely, if there happen to be a few areas where you’ve fallen short, you want to demonstrate that you’re aware of the problems and have solid strategies in place for rectifying the situation.
How do you do this?
The dreaded compliance report.
Compliance reports show the initiatives in which you are succeeding and the areas where you still need more work. But the difference with a compliance report is that you now have a hand in crafting the document, and if done well, this can be an opportunity to show stakeholders how smoothly your company operates or how well it deals with the complex machinations of industry regulation.
Another possible use for your compliance report is as an internal checklist. In this case, your audience may not be outside stakeholders, but internal company employees, managers and board members. Here, the purpose of the compliance report is to codify all the necessary steps and actions that need to happen in order to maintain compliance or meet regulatory obligations.
Another way of thinking on this is that a compliance report offers a gap analysis of an organization’s compliance status based on survey responses or other targeted inspections.
Why is this important? What is the value of a well-done compliance report? As much as our business culture stews and crows over profit margins and returns on investments, there is also an underlying desire to do the right thing. Whether we are an investor or an employee, we want to know that the business we’re affiliated with is both financially solvent and ethically sound, guided by strong governance toward lasting success. Your compliance report is one way that you can communicate that.
5 Key Components of Compliance Report Templates
A quick Google search will provide you with more templates for compliance forms than you can shake a stick at. While that may be helpful for starters, it may also be too much of a good thing. Depending on your particular situation, you may need to customize you report to meet the conditions of a particular compliance initiative, regulatory body or industry specification. But there are some standard components of most executive summaries that are worth familiarizing yourself with. Each of these may go under a different heading, depending on the specifics of your report, but the gist of the categories tends to hold true.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but disclosures are the reason for the report. This may go under the name FINDINGS or EVENTS or a half dozen other monikers, but they are the Things Upon Which You Are Being Graded, the things readers are paying attention to. In the actual report, this will likely be the largest section, but for an Executive Summary, it can be enough to simply list each event, and then give an indication of company performance.
Some reporters opt for a stoplight graphic: with green marking full compliance, yellow representing marginal compliance and red indicating real trouble. That way, at a glance, a reader can spot the trouble areas. Others try to break down their compliance measure for each task with a percentage. This process may require a bit more justification for the numbers you employ, but if you have the math, by all means use it.
Still others build additional data in this introductory list through the use of Risk Profile Indicators. These are acronyms that speak to the severity of the performance value. For example, a C might communicate that failing this initiative might expose the employer to civil penalties, an L might indicate the risk of litigation or an A could signal that such actions might trigger an audit. This quick sketch of potential consequences can galvanize your reader’s attention and wake them up to the gravity of these conditions.
Some reports go a step further than a simple list. They introduce each compliance goal, citing the regulation or policy it gauges, then briefly describe the organization’s response to it. This is more informative, and gives you a chance to contextualize your efforts to some degree, but it does detract from the immediacy of the graphical presentation. A middle path might be to offer such detail and contextualization later in the overall report.
No surprises here. The Reporting section of the Executive Summary refers to any reports that must be filed with a government agency. It is possible that copies of the actual report appear later in the document, but for the summary, it suffices to say that such a report was actually completed. So, a report on reports. Done and done.
Many compliance measures are backed by attendant fees. These may include fees for licensing renewals, insurance policies, or a host of other annual expenses paid to the government or aligned regulatory body in the process of running the business. At this point in the Executive Summary, you need not lay out the actual cost of each fee. What you are reporting is that each fee was paid in full and that your organization is square with all of its mandatory expenses.
The Documents section provides insight into any documents that your company is legally obligated to maintain. These can range from a list of board members to Associates Agreements to HIPAA privacy forms or proofs of licensing. Your whole objective here is simply to signal that you do indeed have these forms, and you could produce them in the event of an audit or some other contingency. So, pass/fail.
More Than a Hoop
Compliance reports can seem like boilerplate exercises, hoop-like documents designed to tell the story of other hoops you had to jump through. But, if you understand the basic structures and skeletons of compliance reporting, these opportunities can provide you with a way to communicate your company’s good work and its good will.
For more on how Blueprint can help you solve your reporting problems, contact us today.