What is compliance

Compliance = compliance with the rules

The word Compliance usually means "compliance with the rules" or "acting in accordance with the rules". It refers to the rules that apply to an organisation (company, association, or public entity), whether external (laws) or internal (ethical values or internal or group standards). These rules are then applied to the organisation as a whole, to its employees, but also to the management or persons acting on its behalf.

Compliance = team

The word compliance also refers to a team whose task is to achieve "compliance with the rules". This can be an individual, an entire team, or several coordinated positions in different teams. It just depends on what is most effective for the organization.

Compliance Management System (CMS)

There are many ways to achieve 'compliance with the rules' and each organisation uses means to achieve this that are appropriate to its needs and internal organisation. Common to all of them is a diverse mix of tools, organisational measures, training, or steps planned over time - collectively called a Compliance Management System. It is in fact a program that results in the continuous achievement and maintenance of a "state of compliance".

Compliance tasks:

  • Prevention (co-creates an environment where "compliance with the rules" is welcomed)
  • Identification (identifies risks and advises on how to prevent/manage them)
  • Reaction (responds to risks that have already materialised)
  • Consulting (helps the whole company change rules and controls)
  • Monitoring (monitoring of existing controls and regular reporting to management)

Why compliance?


A commonly set up CMS protects the organization against sanctions from governmental authorities and related inconveniences (e.g., deterioration of the media image, prevention of criminal liability of the legal entity or members of the management). The goal of such a CMS is to comply mainly with external rules (i.e., laws). In layman's terms: a CMS ensures a peaceful sleep.

Increasing the value of the organisation

A modern CMS goes a little further and wants to add value to the organisation. It turns around its philosophy of existence and relies on the organisation's own will to follow the rules and its ethical values. By doing so, the organization actually demonstrates its commitment and internal quality. For the external partner, such an organisation gains credibility. For its employees, the organisation is more attractive as an employer and stays longer, attracting new, similarly minded candidates. In the long run, such an organisation achieves a higher rate of return on investment. In layman's terms: the CMS will bring more value to the organisation.

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