How to Outsource Compliance For Small Businesses in Australia
Just because you wanted to have a business in Australia does not mean you can run one at will. It’s much more complicated than that, just like it is to cook up a good barbie. There are rules and regulations that you need to follow strictly. Rethinking your venture? Hold your horses and read this post first to find out what you are up against and how you can handle them. Today, we will cover all you need to know about outsourcing compliance for small businesses and compliance requirements in Australia.
All industries are under heavy regulation, some more so than others. Following rules and regulations relating to taxation, environment safety, workers compensation, and product safety must occur. Compliance is core to the very survival and success of your venture. Now that you are on a roll, it’s best to know that compliance governs almost every aspect of your business.
In the corporate world, compliance is adhering to and following all the legal rules and regulations in respect of managing the business, its employees and the customers. From just the definition you must be thinking that compliance is a pain and that’s all it is. If you try to understand the concept behind compliance you will realise what a difficult job the government and the regulating bodies have to perform in ensuring that business is conducted ethically. Compliance is a way to make sure that all organisations behave and operate responsibly.
In the last decade outsourcing compliance has picked up speed. Organisations actively seek to avail the services of a third-party specialising in this arena. There are two primary reasons for doing so:
1. Cost cutting.
2. Gaining expertise.
Within compliance itself, some jobs are routine and yet others are core elements of your business. The routine jobs are outsourced to third-party vendors so that you can drive focus on the core compliance jobs.
The basic compliance requirements in Australia are no different than anywhere else in the world. However, differences do exist. It is necessary to know all the local laws and regulations that will govern your business. Being armed with that data will only strengthen your compliance program.
When to Outsource Compliance
1. If during any time you realise that there exist weaknesses in your compliance operations or program, it is time to think about your options.
2. If you are just starting out and unsure of how to make an effective compliance program, you can take help from a professional vendor until you can take over the reins.
3. If a vacancy is created due to the compliance officer moving on to greener pastures or retiring, outsourcing can solve your problems until the position is filled.
Assess the Need for Compliance
Any business big or small may feel the need to take expert advantage from time to time. Outsourcing some of the regular compliance jobs will give you the benefit of asking the vendor for specialised services or advice anytime. In order to outsource compliance, consider doing the following:
1. Study the strengths and weaknesses of your compliance program. If required, ask an independent party to conduct an in-depth and objective assessment to evaluate your program.
2. Review the legal documents, written guidelines and the code of conduct for guidance.
3. Examine the high-risk areas and conduct the necessary training to make them sound.
4. Examine the effectiveness of training.
5. Ask for expert help to build compliance metrics. The further you are from the standards, the more help you need.
How to Outsource Compliance
You have accepted the fact that you need help to be compliant. Let’s now see how to go about outsourcing compliance.
1. Ask for Recommendations - You are not the first and last person or organisation thinking of outsourcing compliance. There are other’s like you and most have already done what you are planning to do. Spread the word about and ask for recommendations of suitable vendors. Collect the vendor performance feedback and gather basic background on their performance history.
2. Approach Recommended Vendors For Service Package and Quote - Approach the vendors to find out the contents of their standard service packages. Ask them for a price quote on a tailormade package if that is what your business needs. In order to access your compliance program, the vendor might either ask you to fill a lengthy questionnaire or ask to see your compliance audit results.
3. Evaluate Vendor Compliance Technology - Before passing a verdict evaluate the kind of technology the vendor uses for data collection, data management, analytics, testing compliance and reporting the results. A well established and successful vendor will have the best tools and deliver outstandingly in maintaining their integrity.
4. Understand How Vendor Keeps Updated About Regulatory Changes - Even when you are not outsourcing your core compliance jobs you still need to ensure that even the regular work is done as per the demands of the law. Changes in law are frequent. Keeping track of these changes, big and small, is an imposing task. Yet the vendor has to stay abreast with all of them. It would be foolish to go in blind and assume, just because the vendor is highly recommended he knows how to do things. You need to assure yourself and affirm that the vendor is complying with all the laws.
Can Compliance Be Outsourced Completely?
No, compliance is the very core of your business so it cannot be outsourced in full. Only partial outsourcing is possible and permissible. Complete compliance outsourcing means handing over the complete operations of your business to a third-party, which is not possible.
The Final Word
Think of compliance as a way to deliver on your business's social, environmental, moral and legal responsibility. It may seem like a trivial task but failing to do so can have big ramifications. So, the plan is to perform the job to the best of your ability. If it means asking for assistance and outsourcing a portion of it, so be it. Whatever you do, always follow the golden rule of outsourcing, that being, even if you outsource a part of the job you should still maintain the skill to handle it in-house. Fraud usually occurs with those who foolishly fail to maintain the skill.
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