How To Stay Compliant Using Agile

July 20, 2020
7 minute read
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A guest post by Ken Lynch


Compliance is a necessary cost that businesses have to accept. After all, it is meant for the good of your business as well as your stakeholders. However, one aspect that makes most startups and established enterprises fear compliance is the price tag it comes with. Even worse, businesses need to comply with more than one regulation, not to mention their own internal policies.

While you will still have to pay the cost of compliance and use the ad hoc resources, the method by which you approach compliance will have a significant role to play on the quality of compliance as well as the cost. Unlike the conventional waterfall approach towards compliance, agile compliance completely revolutionizes how organizations can meet regulatory requirements. Which begs the question, why should you consider agile compliance?

Here is why you should consider agile compliance and the best to approach it:

The Shortcomings Of The Waterfall Approach

At its core, the waterfall approach is a sequential one, whereby compliance projects or tasks need to follow a specific order, often taking more time than necessary to achieve compliance. When using this approach, the intricate compliance details are defined and committed to upfront, even before businesses can identify the real behavior of their systems. This sequential approach is defined by large batches of work, late feedback schedules, and long cycles in between the integration points of the various systems. In most cases, compliance activities might have to be deferred until the projects’ end, creating bottlenecks when it comes to providing insights into the compliance progress.

This method can neither scale nor keep up with the rigid time-to-market demands. For businesses that follow this method, the chances are that you will have significant compliance challenges, experience disappointing outcomes, miss deadlines, and often end up with poor quality projects. Also, compliance risk management is not always at the core of the waterfall approach.

Why Agile Compliance Is An Optimal Solution

Agile compliance approaches ensure incremental quality throughout the development of a project, from the onset to the end. Throughout this process, the necessary compliance activities are added into the mix, making compliance an in-built aspect of product development instead of an afterthought. In the agile approach to compliance, there is a high degree of collaboration, meaning that stakeholders, let alone employees, can voice their opinions on the development of the various tasks. This not only ensures that projects can be designed with the end-user in mind, but it also increases stakeholders’ trust in the development cycle, especially when it comes to ensuring compliance.

Also, the fact that customers and other stakeholders are involved in the development process enhances transparency. They can learn more about how features are prioritized and also be part of the review process. Making changes to the different aspects of development, including compliance, is also quite straightforward, as the method allows teams to refine the quality of a project in real-time continually. This increases the effectiveness in which the development team can use up resources since quality is a priority, and tests are done regularly. Lastly, an agile approach to development reduces the amount of time between the onset of a project to its end.

How To Implement Agile Compliance And Development

Understand The Regulatory Landscape

Before you start any product development, you need to understand the compliance landscape. Ideally, you should know the number of regulations that you need to follow and the nitty-gritty details of how to be compliant. Remember, regulations change from time to time, which is why you need to continuously monitor your compliance landscape for any changes you need to implement.

Enhancing Collaboration Between Teams

For agile compliance to be successful, business leaders need to identify the stakeholders whose input will be necessary during the project. Ideally, they need to work with professionals in the operational, legal, compliance, audit, and risk management departments in collaboration to meet demand. You should consider working with applications that can help to improve communication and enhance collaboration.

As for communication, development teams need to consult the key project stakeholders in good time. They should make the best use of key stakeholders’ time by ensuring that they have done the necessary research and provided the necessary questions for easier communication. The best practices of communication are essential to ensure alignment between operational units and development teams.

Ensure Easy Document Traceability

Without a healthy record of compliance requirements, it can be pretty easy for business units to miss the necessary compliance needs. Even worse, audits will take longer, if any happens, eating into the operational time of your business. Take time to improve the storage and traceability of compliance documentation. Also, ensure that there is enough communication and collaboration between the different business units to ensure that new regulations are followed and any new product releases follow the compliance requirements.

Build A Common Compliance Requirement Repository

The Equifax data breach taught businesses the need to train stakeholders on the need for compliance. Even with a high level of training, however, stakeholders often need a point of reference when indulging in common business operations to ensure that the business remains compliant. Sadly, siloed compliance requirements repositories work against this.Ideally, you should form common repositories that every stakeholder can refer to when the need arises. It should include compliance details such as rules on data confidentiality, authentication, data availability, security, access, logging, and even auditability.

Automating The Compliance Process

Manual compliance is time-consuming and labor-intensive. Even worse, the chances of committing errors throughout a project are quite high. With automation, IT and development teams can increase the speed and quality of a project. At the same time, they can ensure that all the compliance needs are attended to in good time. Also, this will ensure consistency in terms of the outcome of every project as well as eliminate the chances of costly errors occurring. When it comes to testing the projects, it is easier to identify errors and make the ad hoc changes.

The agile approach to compliance is a sure way to mitigate the risk of non-compliance. However, success trickles down to the nitty-gritty details of how you proceed with it. Consider the tips above to improve your business posture compliance wise.

 

This article was originally posted on Agile Advice on 26-Nov-2019

 


 
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