Is your LMS compliance ready?

There is no better tool than a learning management system for meeting regulatory compliance related to learning and development activities. This article provides an overview of the features an LMS should have to help an organization meet the training requirements issued by regulatory bodies.

Compliance Week magazine reports that “financial regulators around the globe initiated more than 14,000 regulatory events—everything from final rules to speeches indicating potential shifts in agencies’ direction—according to a recent study from Thomson Reuters Governance, Risk & Compliance. That’s an average of 60 changes per day to the rules and guidelines that companies need to follow. The U.S. accounted for 57 percent of regulatory activity; Britain and Europe, 22 percent; and Asia, 15 percent, the report notes. This was back in 2011, and these statistics are likely to rise rather than fall.

Not only are regulations increasing, but gone are the days when corporations could expect a slap on the wrist for not meeting compliance. The public now demands that organizations be accountable for their misdeeds, whether deliberate or not, and governments are cracking down. The recent announcement that Volkswagen would pay the USA more than $15 billion in fines because of its emissions scandal is just one of the examples of this change.

Today, the consequences of not meeting compliance can be significant. While some organizations treat compliance as a burden that must be met, others are embracing the concept of a compliance culture. Why? Because there can be distinct benefits—both direct and indirect. Some of those benefits are increased employee moral; improved customer confidence and trust; reduced liability; and enhanced reputation and integrity. Promoting these benefits from the top down can help an organization create the kind of culture that makes it easy to meet compliance.

But even if you have embraced a compliance culture, you still need to prove that you are meeting the regulations. Since a significant number of compliance issues are related to workers carrying out specific tasks, the skills of those workers are critical. To ensure that workers have the right skills, they must be trained one way or another. When it comes to proving compliance in relation to skills training and other learning or development activities, there is no better tool than a learning management system. But not only are rules and regulations everywhere, they are changing every minute. Is it possible to keep up?

If your LMS is already tracking every detail of your learning and development, the data you need to meet even new regulations should be at your finger tips. Every learning event and activity should have a tracking option—and that includes: formal and informal learning; group and one-on-one; in the classroom and on-the-job; in person, virtual and digital. That should also include events that happen outside of the organization. The system must have the capability to track any and all learning and development that employees encounter just in case you need to prove how and when a worker received critical information. You should be able to show an auditor all the details of a training course or program such as duration, skills acquired and credits granted. As well, you might need to prove how each learner met any prerequisites. Can you show equivalencies from one course to another to justify a certification?

And for those pesky changing rules—as well as the reality that technology and nearly everything is constantly evolving—how about course versioning and upgrading? Versioning should track revisions not only in content but also in prerequisites, materials, and delivery. And the enrollment should clearly show which version a particular learner took.

Course upgrades can help you fill in learning gaps between different course versions, but does the LMS offer a update record that automatically credits the learner to the new version? And how about re-certifications? You must be able to track which courses, programs or certifications require renewal to sustain a credential and when those renewals need to occur.

And if learning activities and skill records are linked directly to position titles, the LMS can easily show that a person is qualified for the job role.

What if you are hit with a completely unique compliance requirement that no commercial LMS has considered? Do you need to throw out your current system and build your own custom LMS? Not if your existing LMS offers the option of adding custom fields or dialogs.

Which brings us to the issue that tracking data is all well and good as long as you can access it when you need to. The LMS should have enough standard reports built-in to cover all the potential data plus a reporting engine to create custom reports to meet unique needs. Your LMS should offer reporting on every field in the database instead of just a few designated fields. Newly created custom fields and data should also be included in the reporting options rather than only the default fields. Another perk would be to have the ability to change the names of fields and dialogs so that auditing and reports meet regulatory requirements precisely without extensive explanation.

If you want to know if your current LMS is compliance-ready, consider whether you could pull up the exact information you need instantly with real-time data while an auditor is looking over your shoulder waiting for the results.

The world of regulatory bodies is complex and complicated, but if you have created a compliance culture, you should be able to prove it as easily as possible. A compliance-ready LMS can simplify the process whether you’re dealing with the FDA, ISO, CMM, FAA, IEEE or any one of the other myriad regulatory agencies in the world.

A version of this article was published at eLearning Industry. Read it here.

To learn more about how our GeoTalent LMS helps organizations meet compliance, request a demo by contacting our sales department here.