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What does compliance mean?

Compliance is defined as adherence to rules and guidelines. It is a term that, in a professional context, describes the process by which companies try to meet any legal requirements and recommendations that apply to them.  For example, privacy laws such as GDPR. This article should provide a better understanding of what compliance entails and how to achieve it. We’ll also talk about who is responsible for it and what happens if you are not compliant.

Two meanings of compliance

Compliance can have two different meanings. First, it refers to what the company does, your steps you take to follow rules and guidelines. Secondly, it describes the success of such efforts, i.e. becoming compliant. Compliance is not a permanent state. It is an ongoing process that requires self-monitoring to be sure you continue to meet regulations. Additionally, you must keep up with any new legal requirements that may apply to your company.

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Why should you be compliant?

Being compliant means that your company complies with the laws and regulations that apply to one’s company when it comes to handling sensitive information. In the UK-GDPR is the data regulation that companies in UK must follow. If you have business in other parts of the world, other regulations such as GDPR, CCPA etc. apply.

Compliance helps to mitigate risks of financial loss, as non-compliance can lead to mistrust and fines. Companies that are compliant are better equipped to deal with cyber attacks, consumer demands and security standards, which can give a competitive advantage. Finally, compliance can support ethical business behavior, which is essential for maintaining a positive image. Achieving and maintaining compliance shows that you take your responsibility as a processor of sensitive information seriously. Compliance can thus help to build trust and credibility with one’s customers and business partners. Overall, compliance is a necessary strategy to ensure responsible and sustainable business practices.

Compliance can seem like a daunting task for companies, but it is a process that should not be underestimated.

How do you become compliant?

In order to achieve compliance, there are a number of processes you have to go through. For example, it is crucial that you understand the applicable regulations, appoint a data controller (DPO), and implement data policies and more. To get more knowledge about becoming compliant with practical tips, please read our blog on this topic here.

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Who is responsible for you being compliant?

Ultimately, the responsibility for compliance falls to management. This includes, for example, the owner of the company, the CEO, the executive board, and others who control it are legally responsible for it. Management is responsible for internal control and risk management, which includes being compliant. Larger companies are required by law to hire or appoint a Data Protection Officer who can take care of all the work related to being compliant with rules and standards. Read more about a Data Protection Officer here.

In smaller companies, the owner may need to personally take care on compliance. It can be tricky for small business owners to juggle compliance along with all the other issues that require their attention. But if the owner keeps up to date with the rules that apply to their sector and has the right tools and support, they can manage it. However, it is important to remember that compliance is a company-wide responsibility and all employees and departments should work together to maintain compliance with relevant standards and regulations.


The easy way to compliance

Regardless of the size of your company, being compliant can be an extensive task. Fortunately, compliance tools can help you meet the requirements of the GDPR faster and more accurately than manual processing. These tools are capable of automating many of the processes involved in processing personal data and complying with GDPR requirements. If you want to know more about what a GDPR tool can do for your company, you can read more here.

Sebastian Allerelli

Founder & COO at Safe Online
Governance, Risk & Compliance Specialist
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