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Compliance activities

elines for bureaucrats: when in charge, ponder; when in trouble, delegate; when in doubt, mumble. James H. Boren

These activities serve no useful purpose for the organization as regards its products and services, but are required by outside bodies, such as local government, regulatory authorities and central government departments. All organizations suffer to some extent from having to comply with something - whether a church hall with fire regulations or an investment firm with the myriad regulations of the financial compliance authorities.

Compliance activities - usually 'paperwork' or 'red tape' - are sometimes put aside until the last possible moment. However, many of them have legal backing and carry a penalty if not carried out, completed on time or performed correctly.  Included in this category are completing tax returns, filing annual accounts, keeping records of accidents, and storing documentation for statutory periods.  Also included are activities that are necessary in moderation but are sometimes done to excess, such as too frequently assessing the progress of students, or too frequently producing financial figures.

These activities are particularly onerous for small organizations where they represent a substantial overhead.  They increase year on year in spite of governments vowing that something will be done to reduce them! However, some individuals and small firms specialize in performing these activities for other organizations and they can therefore perform them much quicker and accurately than the organizations themselves.

Monitoring the effort:
Organizations should review these activities to see if they are still actually necessary. The information produced by these activities can be useful, for instance, the health and safety 'accident book' can give a good view of any trends in accidents occurring at a particular site and the type of people susceptible to them. In some cases, compliance is the result of an activity which was once required but is no longer needed, as for instance, where visit reports were required by a manager who has since left, but the reports are still produced and filed without being read. Both internally and externally required compliance activities suffer from the ratchet effect - new ones are added, but out-of-date ones are never dropped. >>>