Benefits of self-assessment
Compliance management is the process of planning, organizing, controlling, and leading activities that ensure compliance with regulations and standards.
These activities can include:
- Internal audits
- Third-party audits
- Answering questions and providing supporting documentation
- Completing compliance checklists, and
- Developing and implementing policies and procedures to ensure compliance
Before being audited by an external (third) party, organisations should ensure they have control over their own compliance management and verify this by performing one or more self-assessments.
By initiating a self-assessment, staff and management will need to answer audit questions and provide substantiating evidence. This will result in an increased awareness of the requirements and verify the actual compliance status across the organisation.
Taking ownership of assigned responsibilities
Organisational responsibilities are formally assigned to staff and management jobs. But in practice, is the person in that job really taking ownership of those responsibilities? In a self-assessment, each of the audit questions will have to be allocated to the individual person that formally has responsibility for the relevant aspect of the business. That individual can respond in different ways:
- Answer the question and provide all supporting evidence
- Delegating the question to one of their staff
- Re-Assign / Reject if another person formally has the responsibility
Typically, a question will be assigned from the (senior) management level down to the individual staff member. After the question has been answered, it will retrace its assignment chain back up, whereby everyone in that chain will have to validate the answer in accordance with their agreed responsibility.
Early warning of weaknesses
If weaknesses are found during self-assessment, it is an early warning that leaves more room for corrective action than typically available in a formal audit with fixed timeframes. Maintaining continuous compliance while requirements are changing means that policies, procedures, job descriptions and training can keep pace with those changes. In an organisation with appropriate change management in place, this is a proactive process. However, there may be various causes for weaknesses to emerge requiring a reactive approach as well.