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Budgets are tightening, so how can we maximize and make the most of it? Each day we hear from organizations that funds are running low and those that are left are diverted to emergency programs – or wherever the fire is burning brightest.

How can compliance professionals ensure they have the tools necessary to create appropriate policies?  Collaborate across the organization? Train and test employees? And ultimately, ensure risk and liability are mitigated? We’ve lived through it ourselves and put a few tips together that can help in dire times of shrinking budgets, and even better, in times that are less urgent.

1. Seek out opportunities

Being proactive is the best thing you can do. Complacency and overconfidence can fool even the best of us into a sense of security. Blaming a lack of funding for inaction is just as bad, and it will cost you.

Taking proactive steps will save money in the long run. Seize every opportunity to innovate, and work with your team on creative ways to progress without draining the budget.

2. Do more with less

We’ve all heard this one, and it continues to ring true. Examining every step of your compliance or accreditation process – and making the hard decisions – is critical and can expose areas of weakness you may have overlooked previously. Reprocessing, eliminating steps and using new automation tools (including cloud-based technologies) can help reduce effort and cost over time.

3. Be flexible

When it comes to regulations and compliance, it all seems very black and white – policies must be created and approved; employees must be trained and tested; and some organizations must submit to audits. Pretty clear, right!?

Predictability is good, but doesn’t always contribute to an efficient process to get there. A rigid assumption on how to accomplish compliance goals (‘we’ve always done it this way’) will create unnecessary roadblocks. New laws, regulations and scrutiny demand that we be more flexible in how we succeed – and shrinking budgets give us no choice.

4. Collaborate and network

Being part of a community, similar industry or role, can be a great asset when searching for ways to improve and save. Within your organization, your department is most likely not the only one to see budget slashes. Be a good listener to those who have experience in your area and even to those in other areas of your own organization to see how they have overcome constraints or innovated.

Even the best processes can be improved. Technology is ever evolving, skillsets are refocused and few can really predict what’s around the corner. Proactively considering every step of the way, using your network and considering new ideas will create better outcomes. Budget crisis or not – it’s a better place to be.