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VMS: A key tool for compliance officers

VMS: A key tool for compliance officers Photo

Compliance officers are often unsung heroes within an enterprise. When they do their jobs well, the results are inconspicuous. It’s hard to perceive incidents that didn’t occur and penalties that weren’t imposed because proper controls and processes were in place. The calm guidance that compliance officers provide through highly-regulated waters depends on effective systems that enable them to do a number of things at scale, including: 

  • setting up comprehensive internal controls that satisfy regulatory requirements
  • monitoring operations for non-compliance or control gaps
  • being an internal resource for inquiries about the permissibility of specific business activities
  • providing change management related to new or evolving compliance-related systems or requirements
  • maintaining complete and organized records for internal or external audits

A visitor management system can help automate a large portion of processes related to these responsibilities when it comes to people visiting a variety of company sites. When it comes to large organizations, highly regulated industries or companies with multiple locations, streamlining and automating compliance-related protocols becomes mission-critical.

The challenges of compliance

Compliance officers developing systems face challenges achieving this at scale. VMS intersects with three categories of challenges. These categories are comprehensivenesscost, and confidence. Let’s first define each.

Comprehensiveness

Compliance officers must have an intimate knowledge of the day-to-day affairs of people within the organization in order to determine how to harmonize the nuances of the business with regulations. For instance, in industries in which commerce relies heavily on informal face-time and relationships, record-keeping surrounding conversations and activities leading to transactions may be less complete or uniform. Among those activities are documenting visits to enterprise sites. When it comes to visitor management, there may be informal or ad hoc processes that are challenging to document or organize. Such activities can introduce risks and gaps in internal reporting, and a compliance officer needs to be familiar with these processes in order to mitigate those risks and ensure sufficient controls are in place to remain compliant.

Cost

The comprehensiveness of compliance systems must always be balanced against the costs of implementing and monitoring them. Resource constraints are an unfortunate reality for every department, and compliance is no exception. Compliance officers have to maximize comprehensiveness within the boundaries of a fixed budget, which can be a tall order when there is a growing need for additional human resources, monitoring tools, procedure development, and training due to new or evolving regulations.

Confidence


Confidence refers to the degree of certainty a compliance officer has regarding operations within the enterprise. One of the most significant impediments to certainty is, quite simply, people. Employee conduct can be expedient, inconsistent, or error-prone, and maintaining assurance that it always remains on the right side of regulations is tricky. Among people, there is a specific group that presents an outsized risk to compliance efforts: guests. This is true for two reasons:

1. Guests are an unknown entity. Organizations typically have limited insight into guest backgrounds, intentions, or risk profiles.
2. Guest reception processes are vulnerable to corner-cutting due to expedience or human error.

These three challenges —comprehensiveness, cost, and confidence — make control implementation and monitoring a tough assignment. However, it’s critical that these challenges are overcome since guest management processes fall under many strict regulatory standards, including ITAR, C-PTAT, GDPR, PCI DSS, and FSMA. 

VMS simplifies compliance requirements related to guests

Traction Guest supports processes related to the execution, monitoring, and record-keeping of compliance requirements related to guest management. Common requirements include the existence of processes related to: 

  • the distribution, display, and expiration of identification badges and/or access privileges
  • the presentation of photo identification
  • accompaniment through restricted areas
  • visitor screening
  • consent to data collection

Here’s how Traction Guest helps cover those processes and simplify compliance at scale.

  • The distribution, display, and expiration of identification badges and/or access privileges

Traction Guest users can design and print temporary visitor badges using the system. Each site can configure this function to include whatever information is required. The badges can also be set to auto-expire by displaying an indicator that emerges after a prescribed time period. This provides an unambiguous cue for employees to confront unauthorized people in access-restricted areas. 

  • The presentation of photo identification

Traction Guest can record and verify photo identification as part of the guest sign-in process. An iPad scanner can capture passport or driver’s license information, and a separate, airport-grade scanner can verify government-issued ID. Including this as an automated step in the sign-in process reduces the possibility of this compliance requirement being skipped due to distraction, expedience, or forgetfulness of the reception staff. 

  • Accompaniment through restricted areas

Part of the sign-in process can involve alerting a designated employee to the arrival of a guest. The employee can be made responsible for accompanying the guest throughout the entirety of their visit to restricted-access areas. Combined with well-trained reception staff that ensure a guest remains in the reception area until their guide arrives, this function is the foundation of a process that helps ensure guests only access areas relevant to the purposes of their visits.

  • Visitor screening

Watchlists can be integrated into the visitor management system to determine whether visitors are part of internal and notable third-party lists of prohibited people. Adding watchlist screening to a stage of the visitor journey provides a process to ensure that people who should be blocked from getting access to restricted areas are blocked.

  • Consent to data collection

Legal documents related to a guest’s visit that require signatures or review can be included in the sign-in process, which means that for those companies subject to GDPR or similar privacy regulations requiring permissions, documentation is squared away before visitors enter restricted areas. Furthermore, when validating or recording identity information, Traction Guest can be configured to only extract information from documents that is necessary for the visit, disregarding superfluous personal data. This provides yet another way to protect guest privacy and demonstrate processes related to privacy compliance.

The value of automating and digitizing many of these processes is manifold: fewer potential points of failure exist, detailed records are retrievable for audit, and the flexibility to change and edit workflows to fill control gaps and account for new regulations is available. For those unsung heroes ensuring day-to-day compliance with complex regulations, VMS can be a key tool to automate and systematize processes related to an important business activity: the guest visit.