Many activities that businesses perform, from developing products and services through to delivering them to the market, demand proof of compliance with one or more regulatory bodies. This helps protect customers, the environment, and the companies themselves from a range of liabilities. Strict adherence to regulations helps ensure that companies can continue to do business in quickly changing and expanding marketplaces. But keeping up to speed with them all – and their regional variations – can be costly.
There is a need for a better way to demonstrate compliance. It should happen more automatically, and it should be communicated more easily between companies and regulators. Compliance needs to be fully adopted into the “as-a-service” model.
“As-a-service” means replacing manual and labor-intensive methods of receiving and sending vital data with a more automatic, internet-based approach. In consumer electronics, a well-known example of as-a-service happens with personal smartphone apps that upgrade themselves automatically over Wi-Fi. The process is simple, convenient, and keeps the smartphone apps up-to-date and bug-free. In the business-to-business (B2B) environment, items such as photocopiers and trucks receive similar upgrades, perform diagnostics and deliver data logs electronically. These are proactive services that ensure the customer’s property stays in top shape with less need for physical deliveries and technicians’ visits.
Managing and delivering up-to-date information using the as-a-service model has redefined the seller-customer relationship to one that is perpetual, virtual, much more comfortable, and usually less expensive. It generates value for both parties through its constant two-way stream of data.
The as-a-service model can also apply to the intricate world of compliance, which relies on the transmission and reception of regulatory and performance data to support various operational processes. Organizations already exist to provide the source of this information. Bloomberg Environment, Enhesa, RegScan, and STP, for example, provide regulations, citations, requirements, and regulatory audit protocols used for audits, inspections, and other compliance and safety needs.
Companies not yet aware of the as-a-service model can access compliance information on their own and insert it into their own separate applications or spreadsheets. They can also manually upload it as protocols or add it back as tasks or actions to their current systems. The question is, why do all this when there’s an easier and more reliable way?
Conquering the RCM Mountain
Enablon has organized Regulatory Compliance Management (RCM) into three sections: regulations, permits, and policies. Regulations are what the company needs to adhere to, and commonly apply to a wide range of environmental media (e.g. water, air, soil) and operational processes. The permit section is specific to an actual worksite with permits issued by specific regulatory agencies for each environmental media, such as air or water emissions. There may also be air permits with requirements for materials, such as the number of gallons of solvent-based paints that can be used, or operating stipulations on hours per year allowed for an emergency generator. Companies may enter those stipulations into their RCM system to be aware of the permit requirements. They can also add compliance tasks and complete the required monthly emissions calculations to ensure they are within those requirements.
Regarding the policies section, organizations may also need to ensure such activities fit within their own policies and procedures above and beyond what a regulation specifies. This may require additional compliance tasks to ensure they are meeting the limits set by themselves or any other interested party (such as an industry trade group).
There are also numerous annual reporting requirements for each site location like SARA 312 (or the EPA’s Tier II), which have very stringent deadlines and reporting information.
This all points to a large amount of manual work, prone to error, delay, and duplication. Missed deadlines can result in fines, revocations of permits, and great revenue loss. It represents a significant Achilles heel in the business process.
The solution lies in working with a vendor that integrates data from regulatory content providers, offers validated regulatory content and templates, helps companies compile and generate the specific reports needed, and helps organizations perform compliance assurance activities such as audits and assessments, all via a secure internet connection, remotely, automatically, and easily.
This is an age where data is king, and intelligent routing of information is the lifeblood of any organization. Companies face the daunting task of managing compliance for multiple processes. They owe it to themselves and their customers to join forces with a vendor whose strength is in delivering compliance data as-a-service, integrated across a range of solutions.
Enablon integrates content information into many applications, such as:
- Regulatory Compliance Management Software: Organizes regulatory information such as citations, regulations, summaries of regulations and regulation updates, permits, policies, and procedures.
- Audit Management Software: Schedules and sets up an audit program, including audit and assessment protocols used to guide auditors and remind them of what they need to include or review during an audit.
These are linked to other Enablon applications that manage compliance for specific EHS or risk areas like air, waste, water, chemicals, health, and safety, for seamless information sharing across the Enablon platform. This helps ensure compliance and manage action plans and tasks generated for each compliance requirement. The Enablon platform also manages data for inclusion into standard EPA reports to assist in automatic reporting of information directly inputted into the regulatory agency templates. This helps reduce errors. Another benefit of this model is to ensure consistent internal reporting and compliance results.
The as-a-service model is quickly taking over from more traditional methods of handling data and using software. In just the same way companies should be considering as-a-service as part of their own offerings, so should they also consider it in support of the very fundamental reality of compliance. Without accurate and timely compliance information companies simply would not be able to operate.
Do you want to improve EHS management in your organization through software? Download the Verdantix Green Quadrant EHS Software 2017 report to learn more about market trends and compare the top 20 EHS software suppliers: