Transparency — it’s a word that’s tossed around quite a bit in conversations, often with the words, “accountability” and “governance,” but what does it really mean? What does it look like? Why is it important? How does it apply to policies and contracts?
How Compliance Management Software Increases Corporate Transparency
The abbreviated definition of transparency is “the extent to which a corporation’s actions are observable by outsiders.” It’s a consequence of and established by regulations, local norms and policies set forth by the company as they seek to determine and define the degree of clarity and accuracy of information, as well as how much information, they wish to disclose to their employees, stakeholders, shareholders and the public.
Determining What Transparency Looks Like
Transparency, as it applies to contracts, is the “minimum degree of disclosure to which agreements, dealings, practices and transactions are open to all for verification.”
You’ve entered contracts with vendors. Does everyone understand who is involved, what tasks they can be held accountable for and when those tasks need to be executed? Do they know what the commitments are and why they were made? Do you all agree that the terms are mutually beneficial?
Similarly, transparency for policies is “the essential condition for a free and open exchange whereby the rules and reasons behind regulatory measures are fair and clear to all participates.”
In other words, you have established policies and procedures to govern your organization and ensure it’s compliant with federal, state and local regulations, and in line with company culture. How do your employees know what those policies are? Do they know how and where to access them? Most importantly, do they know why those policies exist, how they were created and who was involved in their creation, review and approval?
Recognizing Transparency’s Importance
Transparency is also defined as the “availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation and collective decision-making,” according to the Business Dictionary. Without having access to and understanding all the information, people cannot make well-informed decisions. They can end up feeling misled if you’re not open and honest with them in a timely manner.
If your employees are a reflection of the values your company upholds, then it’s important to maintain transparency with them. You want to be honest with them so they’ll in turn be honest with you and your customers. You also want to be as clear as possible with them and give them as many tools as they need to perform their jobs to the best of their ability.
For vendors with whom you’ve entered into contracts, you want to be clear about the way you do business — it shows the business ethics and beliefs that your company practices.
For your organization as a whole, transparency is vital to collect accurate data, which in turn, is critical for managing risks. Without transparency, your employees, vendors and company can’t understand the big picture of what’s happening and as a result, don’t have the data necessary to make predictions about what lies ahead. Without that clear, timely communication, business processes are slowed and it becomes hard to stay compliant with ever-changing regulations.
How Compliance Management Software Helps
Compliance management software, such as ConvergePoint’s Policy Management Software and Contract Management Software, don’t just help you find your documents easily and streamline your processes — it also allows for increased transparency into those policies, contracts, data and processes:
- One central document repository ensures greater transparency by giving you one place to store and manage all your policies and contracts. Not only do you eliminate paper, you eliminate people wasting time and resources searching for documents in email inboxes, share drives or physical folders. You know exactly where and how to quickly find your policies, contracts and supporting documents.
- Automation and custom workflows shortens the time it takes for a policy or contract to go through the process. With shortened, clearer processes where people know their roles and when they need to be involved, it saves them time by ensuring that only the people who need to be involved in a particular step of the process are notified and involved at that time.
- Full audit trails are a result of transparency gained from automation and custom workflows — knowing what’s happening and who’s involved in each step. Compliance management software captures not only what’s happening and who’s involved, but also tracks version history, discussions and metadata.
- Real-time dashboards offer increased transparency by enabling you to see important data and status updates, all on one screen. It allows you to see how processes are flowing and where there are hiccups (and who’s holding up a process).
- Real-time reporting and metadata gives you the big picture. With up-to-date reports, you’re able to analyze what’s working, what’s not, how processes can improve and where there are potential opportunities you can take advantage of.
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