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Jan 31, 2024 · 7 min read

Enty checklist for keeping your documents regulation-ready

Legal landscapes can be hard to navigate - learn about considerations, the role of management, and document best practices.

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In today's complex business landscape, maintaining compliance with legal and regulatory requirements is crucial for the success and longevity of any organization. Proper management of business records and documents plays a pivotal role in ensuring compliance with various laws and regulations. However, navigating the intricacies of compliance assurance can be challenging, as each industry and jurisdiction has its own set of rules and guidelines. That’s why today we will provide you with essential tips for keeping your documents regulation-ready.
It is important to note that this article offers general recommendations, it is always advisable to consult with legal and compliance specialists to ensure compliance with specific requirements in your industry and country.

Understanding legal and regulatory compliance

Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements is the cornerstone of a transparent and ethical business. It involves adhering to laws, standards, and regulations that govern various aspects of business operations. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in severe consequences, including fines, penalties, legal actions, and damage to the company's reputation - keep reading to learn more about these.
In order to ensure compliance, one needs to have a clear understanding of the applicable laws and regulations that pertain to in their industry. Some well-known regulations include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), as well as other industry-specific regulations.

Industry-specific compliance considerations

Different industries have unique compliance requirements. Here are some industry-specific considerations to keep in mind:

Financial services industry

Financial services organizations must comply with regulations such as Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Know Your Customer (KYC), and Financial Reporting Standards (FRS). Implement robust systems and controls to prevent money laundering, maintain customer due diligence, and ensure accurate financial reporting.

Healthcare industry

In most cases, healthcare providers must adhere to regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect patient privacy and secure health information. Implement stringent data protection measures, conduct regular risk assessments, and ensure proper handling and disposal of medical records.

Technology and data-driven businesses

Organizations dealing with technology and data-driven services must navigate complex regulations like GDPR. Implement strong data protection measures, obtain explicit consent for data collection and processing, and establish transparent data management practices.

Manufacturing and supply chain

Manufacturing and supply chain businesses must comply with product safety regulations, quality standards, and sustainability requirements. Develop comprehensive quality management systems, conduct regular inspections, and maintain accurate records of product safety and compliance.

The role of records management in compliance

Records management is a strategic practice that ensures the proper creation, organization, maintenance, and disposal of business records. It is instrumental in achieving compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. Effective records management provides a safety net for businesses, protecting them from legal and compliance issues, while also promoting operational efficiency and growth.
The key elements of a compliant records management program will usually include:

Data inventory and classification

To effectively manage records, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the data your organization generates and processes. Conduct a comprehensive data inventory, identifying the types of records your business creates, receives, and maintains. Classify these records based on their sensitivity and relevance to compliance requirements.

Retention schedules

Develop retention schedules that outline how long different types of records should be retained. Consider legal, regulatory, and business requirements when determining the retention periods. Retention schedules may vary based on the nature of the records, industry-specific regulations, and jurisdictional requirements.

Secure storage and access controls

Maintain secure storage for your business records, ensuring that they are protected from unauthorized access, loss, or damage. Implement access controls to restrict access to sensitive records, granting permissions only to authorized individuals. Consider utilizing secure cloud storage or encrypted physical storage options.

Auditable record trails

Establish a system for tracking and documenting the access, alteration, and disposal of records. Maintain an auditable record trail that records who has accessed or modified each record and when. This helps in demonstrating compliance and provides a transparent record of activities related to the management of records.

Secure chain of custody

Maintain a documented chain of custody for records throughout their lifecycle. This ensures that records are securely transferred, stored, and disposed of, with a clear record of every transfer. Implement secure procedures for the destruction of records at the end of their lifecycle, ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Document management best practices

In addition to the key elements of records management, there are several best practices that can enhance your document management processes and promote compliance assurance. Consider the following recommendations:
  • Document version control:
    implement a robust version control system to ensure that the most up-to-date versions of documents are accessible to authorized personnel. This helps prevent confusion and ensures that outdated or incorrect information is not
  • Document organization and indexing:
    develop a logical and consistent organizational structure for your documents. Use descriptive file and folder names and establish a standardized indexing system to facilitate easy retrieval and referencing. Consider implementing document management software to streamline these processes.
  • Document accessibility and retrieval:
    ensure that authorized personnel can easily access and retrieve the documents they need. Implement proper indexing, metadata tagging, and search functionalities to enhance document discoverability. Consider using document management software that allows for efficient search and retrieval.
  • Document security and encryption:
    protect sensitive documents by implementing appropriate security measures. This may include password protection, encryption, access controls, and secure file transfer protocols. Regularly review and update security protocols to address emerging threats and vulnerabilities.
  • Document backup and disaster recovery:
    implement a robust backup and disaster recovery strategy to protect your documents from data loss or damage. Regularly back up your documents and store backups in secure locations, separate from the primary storage. Test the restoration process periodically to ensure the reliability of your backup system.

Compliance assurance strategies

Advancements in technology have revolutionized compliance assurance practices. Various tools and software solutions can streamline document management and enhance compliance processes. Consider leveraging the following technologies:

a. Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI-powered tools can assist in automating document classification, indexing, and retrieval processes. These technologies also help in identifying potential compliance risks and anomalies within large volumes of data. With Enty, you can even review your contracts using AI and the best part - the result will be ready in just two minutes!

b. Document management software

Implementing a robust document management software solution can significantly enhance compliance assurance efforts. These software platforms offer features such as version control, access controls, document workflows, and audit trails to streamline document management processes. At Enty, we understand the challenges businesses face in maintaining compliance with document management. Our innovative solutions empower organizations to automate the routine tasks, speed up document workflows, and ensure regulatory adherence. Contact us today to learn more about how Enty can support your business and streamline back-office processes.
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c. Regulatory monitoring tools

Utilize regulatory monitoring tools that provide real-time updates on changes to laws, regulations, and industry standards. These tools can help you stay informed about compliance requirements, ensuring that your document management practices are continually aligned with the latest regulations.

The risks of non-compliance

Non-compliance can have far-reaching implications for your organization. Let's explore some of the potential risks associated with inadequate compliance assurance:
  • Legal consequences: failure to comply with regulatory requirements can result in legal action, fines, and penalties. For instance, mishandling tax documents may lead to audits and substantial penalties from tax authorities.
  • Reputation damage: non-compliance can tarnish your reputation and erode trust among customers, partners, and stakeholders. Negative publicity and loss of business opportunities may follow.
  • Financial loss: incomplete or inaccurate financial records can lead to misreporting and violate financial regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). Such violations may result in substantial fines and financial loss.
  • Data breaches and privacy violations: in today's data-driven world, protecting sensitive information is crucial. Mishandling personal data or falling victim to data breaches can lead to significant fines, such as those imposed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  • Missed business opportunities: inadequate compliance measures can hinder your ability to secure funding, obtain credit, or enter into partnerships. Lenders and investors often require transparent and compliant operations before engaging with your business.

Last thoughts

Compliance assurance is a complex and essential aspect of running a business. While this article provides a general checklist for keeping your documents regulation-ready, it is important to recognize that each industry, jurisdiction, and business has its own specific requirements. Consulting with legal and compliance specialists is crucial to ensure full compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
By implementing effective records management practices, adhering to best practices, and leveraging technology, you can streamline your compliance assurance efforts and protect your business from legal and regulatory risks. Remember, compliance is an ongoing process that requires regular review, updates, and continuous improvement to ensure the long-term success and sustainability of your organization.
The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult with legal professionals for guidance specific to your business's needs and requirements, or contact our team to learn more about help options available.
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