Too many times we see the providers of ethics and compliance services disappear after they have sold an ethics and compliance training program or ethics and compliance policy management system.
The bar is set pretty low for vendors – sharing industry expertise gained through serving numerous clients in the ethics and compliance industry is a distant fantasy. Most service providers don’t even bother to work with compliance officers and other senior executives to help them solve problems with the solution they just purchased, much less help them optimize the compliance software experience to maximize the impact it has on the company’s overall ethics and compliance initiatives.
However, we have recently seen a trend of rising expectations from ethics and compliance executives looking for vendors to partner with them in solving their problems. This rise in expectations is natural, as most ethics and compliance teams are thin on resources to start with, and therefore are trying their level best to make the most of what they have.
Vendors of ethics and compliance services are in a great place to help companies out and compliance executives must demand them for them to do so.
Vendors can do four distinct things to become better partners with companies:
Be in constant contact with compliance executives to learn their business
Bring industry expertise learned from the diverse set of clients the vendor serves
Create a platform where the clients can interact and learn from one another
Constantly evolve as the industry evolves, using the lessons learned from current and prospective clients, as well as industry and thought leaders
Listen, Listen and Listen!
The first item on the list above is really about listening. Compliance executives should be very careful in selecting a vendor that will listen to them. A vendor will never have all the answers to a specific problem immediately, but if vendors are prepared to listen to executives they can almost become an extension of the compliance team for their clients.
This aspect is particularly important as we all know that compliance teams are nearly always struggling for resources. It is extremely difficult for the chief compliance and ethics officer to build a great ethics and compliance training program with the amount of resources she has. Furthermore, with new regulations and laws not to mention the numerous new methods of consuming information, the challenges that the chief ethics and compliance officer faces are also constantly changing and evolving.
Here at The Network, we have heard a number of clients that they really value our commitment and service to our clients as we are in constant touch with our customers through various channels from day one. This allows us to truly understand our customers at a deeper level and it makes our customers’ lives easier as they are making the most of their limited resources. Therefore, compliance executives must ensure that their vendor is a partner – willing to listen and move in a common direction with them to ensure that the compliance team is making the most of their valuable resources.
Industry Expertise and Market Knowledge
Vendors of compliance services are in a great position to help their clients out as they work with a diverse set of compliance professionals. Compliance executives should select vendors that can share that information with them. Industry benchmark reports, thought leadership and the latest trends should be communicated and shared by vendors, not to mention lessons learned from a presumably large number of implementations – both successful and unsuccessful. Doing so allows compliance executives to rank their ethics and compliance training program objectives, as well as be proactive as opposed to reactive to industry trends.
The Network publishes benchmarking reports, research publications in conjunction with CEB, GRC 20/20 and other top research firms, an industry news digest called the WIND and relays thought leadership via blogs and webinars. All these efforts have received great feedback from our clients as they truly value The Network’s involvement in ensuring their customers are always ahead of the curve.
Learning from Peers
Finally, compliance executives must make use of the opportunity they have to learn from other peers in compliance positions, regardless of industry. Vendors can add value here again by introducing their customers to each other so that they may learn from one another. Some of the best compliments we have received have been around programs that we host that foster an environment where a number of compliance executives can learn from one another.
Our regional events are a great example of this: we have an agenda where we talk about the latest, hottest compliance topics but also allow ample time for networking. Furthermore, in some of these regional events, we hold roundtable discussions or client panel discussions as a more formal way of learning. These events and other events like this have proven extremely valuable to our clients. Therefore, given the challenges of being in a growing industry, compliance executives should look at their vendors to foster networking and peer learning events to help them out in their challenges.