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5/1/2012
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What Works For One Does Not Work For Two

To remain compliant, your approach must grow in scale with your business

My wife, Doris, is the founder and president of a company in the real-estate industry. I once heard her explaining how systems and processes must be rebuilt for each new scale of a business. "What works for one does not work for two. What works for two does not work for three," she said.

What a great concept. Whether you are adding more staff, more locations, more servers, or more processes, we must realize that doing the same things harder or smarter is rarely enough. We must accept that the scale of the business has changed, requiring that all associated tasks and systems maintain the same scale.

For instance, if you add an additional location to your organization, new processes are likely required. Computers may require new secure remote access to off-site servers, technical support may not be "just down the hall" for these users, and the staff responsible for compliance and security may not be in the same building as before.

Sometimes the biggest challenge is realizing the scale has changed. Perhaps a department grew from two employees to 15 in only a few months. How these employees work together and coordinate their tasks likely transitioned with each hire. With the transition, did the documentation of their work processes change, too? Did security measures change? Were managers or leads introduced into the process?

The more people, locations, data, and public exposure an organization adds, the more risk it creates and assumes. In time, properly managing this risk requires new systems and new processes. This includes new compliance-related systems and processes. How an organization monitors and addresses issues is never a completed task but an ongoing process of business culture and behavior.

In our office and for our client projects, we frequently contend that the fastest way to do something is to do it right. This mantra works great for organizations that are growing and need to remain (or become) compliant. Build in the new processes needed for proper and practical compliance as growth occurs. This makes the growth more solid and removes the need to come back after an audit and redo hastily built processes and procedures.

In the long run, thoughtful scaling not only saves the organization time, but also significant revenue. It also reduces the temptation to build ill-fitted extra steps to meet compliance requirements and helps prevent situations where dangerous cover-ups can seem like reasonable solutions.

Business growth is exciting, and those responsible for maintaining compliance don't have to be the party-poopers. Growth is an opportunity to help your organization build solid processes, procedures, and culture. Treat it that way.

Glenn S. Phillips, the president of Forte' Incorporated, works with business leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. He is the author of the book Nerd-to-English and you can find him on Twitter at @NerdToEnglish.

Glenn works with business leaders who want to leverage technology and understand the often hidden risks awaiting them. The Founder and Sr. Consultant of Forte' Incorporated, Glenn and his team work with business leaders to support growth, increase profits, and address ... View Full Bio

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