Compliance: We Hate It But We Have To Do It … Productively

No one really taught us about compliance. 

Compliance is about satisfying requirements for the sake of legal and ethical obligations.  Examples of obligations are paying taxes correctly, making sure one’s operations pass environmental inspections, and providing employees their mandated benefits. 

As much as we accept the principles behind the obligations, we hate the tasks we have to do to fulfil them.  Most of these tasks involve filling up forms and reports that would need to be deemed acceptable by authorities and submitted before pre-set deadlines. 

Compliance is really for the benefit of the authorities who enforce the obligations.  It doesn’t benefit the one who has to do the complying.  No matter how noble the principle behind a compliance, we hate the work we have to put in for it.    

Compliance is an adversity, a hindrance or an unwelcome element in our everyday to-do list that demands attention we’d rather not give.  It distracts us from our goals, it is a major pain in the rear. 

Whether it be by some logical rationale or by some political whim, compliance changes from time to time in terms of rules and requirements.  From something that would be simple to follow, it can turn into something that’s more complicated and that needs more resources to accomplish. 

But as much as we hate it, we have to deal with it.  And it would be best if we become productive in the tasks required from us.

The following are some tips to be more productive when it comes to compliance:

  1. Set up a structure.  Plan out the assignments consisting of what needs to be done and who will do them by when.  An example of such a structure is the following table: 
  1. Define the routine.  Establish the procedures needed for every compliance task especially for the more complicated ones (like income taxes).  Document the routine with your team and include it in their performance measures;
  2. Seek continuous improvement.  Include compliance in regular meetings with your team.  Keep the team updated to changes in the rules, forms, and requirements and tweak the routines to those changes.  Always find a better way to save time and money (e.g. planning to secure permits at city hall in one day instead of two);
  3. Look long-term.  There will be requirements that may need significant changes in one’s equipment and capital.  Pollution standards, for example, may entail purchase of new and expensive devices.  Securities regulations may necessitate changes in stock ownership. One may need to invest much time and resources to comply.  This means compliance should be part and parcel of our strategic plans as much as it should be in our daily routines. 

Compliance is an irritant.  It benefits more the external entity (more often government) than the one who has to fulfil the task.  Compliance is an adverse shape-shifter; it changes in terms of requirements and rules and we are forced to follow whether we like it or not. 

But we have to live with it, adapt to it, improve on it and include it in our strategic planning as well as in our daily routines. 

When it comes to compliance, the idea is to not only make oneself more efficient in getting it done but also in ensuring that one complies productively to the ever-changing requirements.  Quality matters just as much as quantity even for tasks that don’t contribute to our goals. 

Published by Ellery

Since I started blogging in 2019, I've written personal insights about supply chains, operations management, & industrial engineering. I have also delved in topics that cover how we deal with people, property, and service providers. My mission is to boost productivity via offering solutions and ideas. If you like what I write or disagree with what I say, feel free to like, dislike, comment, or if you have a lengthy discourse, email me at ; I'm also on LinkedIn:

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