Ugh! The Regulations Changed – Again!

Maintaining compliance with regulations that dictate the format and content of documents (many of which are rarely read) is a constant challenge in many industries. Regulation updates require companies to find all affected documents, in every version, and determine the software that created them. The next step is locating a subject matter expert who works with the necessary software and can make the changes. Following approval, organizations move the documents into production and if printing is a requirement, they make an appointment for press time for a visual quality control check.

One way to lessen the compliance burden is switching to data-driven, rules-based document templates that centralize document composition and simplify document maintenance efforts triggered by regulatory changes. Compliance then becomes much more automatic. Regulated document updates can come on quickly, and organizations can’t waste time deciding how to approach the problem. They have to react rapidly to implement regulated changes before mandated deadlines arrive.

Maintaining the Regulated Format

Compliance sometimes requires companies to reproduce documents exactly as the government-issued originals. Organizations would like to use their favorite document composition tools, but preserving fonts, line spacing, or line length with a preferred composition engine can be challenging. The documents could fail a light-table match. The government has good reasons for establishing standard formats. The forms could be used by millions of people. Variations would be a disaster. Some organizations find it necessary to maintain old software to deliver the necessary consistency.

Government agencies use OCR technology, as do banks and insurance companies. These agencies extract data from the completed forms. Adhering to government form designs and updates allows for scanning process automation, driving efficiency and reducing errors. In most cases, documents must adhere to government’s specifications exactly to confirm continuity and consistency across multiple industries and geographies. 

What Is Regulatory Compliance?

Regulatory compliance is when an organization adheres to state, federal, and international laws and regulations relevant to its operations. Examples of regulatory compliance regulations include The U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation of 2016(GDPR). 

Governmental compliance is not the same as corporate compliance. Corporate compliance is adherence to internal, self-mandated rules. Both are important. 

Why is Regulatory Compliance Important? 

  • Fines and Loss: Recently Hilton Hotels paid $700,000 to state regulators, Nationwide Insurance paid $5.5 million in fines, and Target paid $18.5 million to settle regulatory actions and claims.
  • Reputation: Regulatory compliance protects an organization’s assets and reputation. Reputation and trust with customers, prospects, and vendors builds over time and cannot be easily fixed if compromised. Compliance is a central part of corporate policy. 
  • Trust: Compliance is part of foundational corporate ethics. Trust that took years to solidify could be lost because of a single compliance mistake. 

Central Repository Hub and Document Management

A centralized document management system provides cross-referencing and collaboration between required departments. It improves workflow as it dictates who should review (and fix) each document. Documents are more secure as updates managed under a single point of supervision have a lean chain-of-custody. When regulations change, many departments come into play to assure compliance. A list includes the manager of the affected department, HR, legal, compliance officer, operations, and form design and printing. The form must be exact to government specifications to fulfill legal obligations and communicate the change effectively. 

Document Design and Printing

Minimizing postage and processing costs makes good business sense. The best option is merging required government documents with a planned customer mailing. This reduces costs and customer confusion. With the right document composition software, companies can “stitch” government compliance documents into the page set as part of a scheduled mailing.

Reproduction is time-consuming and the minutiae can be significant to a government regulator or scanning device. The same could be said for highly regulated industries such as insurance or banking. When sending printed or PDF documents, organizations must be sure they use the correct versions in every instance, and that any changes to the documents comply with the official requirements.

New Federal Administration

Any governmental administrative change, regardless of party or politics, is sure to stimulate a government modification and compliance changes. Are you compliant from every angle? Not just legal, HR and operations, but also getting that information into the hands of customers, patients, or members according to government guidelines? A centralized document management strategy minimizes the exposure to fines and non-compliance actions, and assures customer satisfaction by accurately communicating updated information.