Leveraging Common Technologies
We can help you accomplish a lot with the great power of software you already own. There is no shame in using Word and PowerPoint to describe what you do and using Excel or SharePoint to "show your work".
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Using What You've Already Got
Figuring out what your regulators and business associates are saying you have to do is one thing. You also need to figure out how to do those things and how and where to keep track of it all (in case you someday need to prove your compliance program exists and works). The “how to do” and “how/where to track” parts are often where overworked solo practitioners begin to feel overwhelmed with compliance work.
When these overwhelmed small business leaders then go looking for answers, they often find super-expensive solutions that require high-level technical skills that they don't have within their small business. Cover Compliance was created to demystify this process and provide small business leaders with a reality check about such complexity. We specialize in helping our clients apply tools they already own using skills they already have, including common desktop software and low-cost subscription services to create a program that can rival even ones in their bigger competition. And in the process, our clients usually end up developing skills and confidence to make better use of their existing technology tools for the success of their business well beyond compliance.
Basic Office Software is Anything But BasicThe three main types of common office software—such as Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint, or the Google Docs or Mac equivalents—have more features and information processing capabilities than most any one organization can effectively use. And that includes even multinational corporations. In addition to the couple decades Cover Compliance has working in its main areas of compliance expertise, we have even more experience as “power users” and developers working with personal computer software from the beginnings of desktop computers through current cloud-based solutions. This experience means we can confidently say that there is almost always a way to accomplish what you need with what you’ve already got.
Taking this approach in any organization, even ones of great size, can be a way to get a solution in place quickly and modify that solution quickly when needed. This ability has even proven helpful with large organizations trying to spec out large, expensive systems, by being able to prototype specific tools to help drive requirements. We relate that here simply to help make this point: For a small entity with limited budgets and personnel, using the Microsoft Office software you already own can get you a compliance program that rivals those of your competitors (even much larger ones). But this approach also nearly always has a related benefit to you and to your business that goes well beyond your compliance program.
Using Your Skills in the Rest of Your BusinessIn working with Cover Compliance to create your compliance program, as we work together to establish the tools you need and help you learn to not only use them but manage them, you will find that you are developing your own “power user” skills that you can use in your business in ways that are only limited by your own entrepreneurial creativity. As you work on your compliance program, you might find that you are thinking of new ways to apply Excel or SharePoint to help with managing other elements of your business, whether it is data or customer analysis or general process management.
SharePoint is AwesomeThe power of Excel and Word (as well as other Microsoft Office tools such as PowerPoint, OneNote, etc.) is amazing. Beyond those core programs, and other special-purpose tools like Visio or Project, SharePoint offers powerful ways to work with business processes in any organization of any size.
SharePoint can make using large collections of Excel and Word files easier, and it can make management of document creation flow more efficiently. But where it really shines in helping small organizations is that it can often replace over-designed and overloaded Excel spreadsheets in its own right and SharePoint makes it possible for small entities to quickly create tools to manage their unique business processes very, very quickly—especially when you work with someone like us to help you apply it to your needs. You need someone that is comfortable with the SharePoint design process and understands the back end of the software, but you also need someone who has a practical understanding of business environments like yours to efficiently design the solutions and quickly enable you to manage them. Cover Compliance has that unique combination of both practical, advanced SharePoint skills and business operations experience, especially working from the perspective of compliance requirements.
But SharePoint is NOT ScaryPeople have been convinced, often by IT specialists with a vested interest in being the only experts, that SharePoint is too complicated for most people to understand, let alone for the average small-business person to “design” in. We exist in part to challenge that head on.
Even from a sheer cost perspective, businesses should not shy away from looking at SharePoint as a solution source. With newer options direct from Microsoft, you can subscribe to a cloud-based SharePoint subscription for $5 per user per month. We can help you with setting up such subscriptions and get you positioned to make use of the services, including designing tools for you to use in your subscription.
Our Idea of FunTo be clear: We do not base most of what we do for our clients in SharePoint solutions. But when we do get to help our clients solve a problem using SharePoint, it’s one of those areas where our work becomes rather fun.
Our preferred clients are some of the smallest healthcare practices, businesses, and nonprofits in the country. For them, SharePoint would be overkill for the main foundational elements in their compliance program. For them, we most commonly work on providing documentation, such as compliance policies and procedures, and business forms that go with them, using Microsoft Word, and on creating spreadsheets and workbooks in Excel that log and track and organize information, as well as provide basic data analysis and reporting (using charts and pivot tables, etc).
We do often find though, that once our clients have their compliance program foundation documents in place, and start to look at how best to track things, they may wonder whether they’ve evolved to a point where they need some complicated and expensive compliance “platform” tool. Or they may have a business process that ties in to their compliance program and that they need to manage in a way that helps fulfill a compliance program need. For example, a service business may want a more formal way to track and manage service complaints to avoid individual complaints possibly escalating to become regulatory complaints.
When we have a client reach that point of soul searching, that is when we start showing them some of the great things that SharePoint can do for them quickly and efficiently. Taking the example above, we can help you design a complaint tracking system using SharePoint in a few short hours, even if you’ve never had one before.
So, yeah, SharePoint is fun for us. Like doing puzzles. We like that sort of thing. And if we get to the place where we are working with you on some SharePoint-based solution, we promise it will be fun for you, too. Especially when you see what kind of business value you can get from it.
Our Soapbox About Compliance PlatformsWith all the advances in the capabilities of our computers and even the devices in our pockets, why should someone, especially a resource- and cash-strapped small business need to invest in specialized compliance systems or GRC (governance, risk, and compliance) platforms to accomplish something that is but a by-product of their being in business? What good is the technological advancement all around us and in our hands if we can't make use of it to solve most of our business problems?
Smaller business, healthcare and not-for-profit clients of Cover Compliance benefit from professional advice on how to interpret and comply with a wide variety of regulations and rules and contract terms. We apply a couple decades of experience in financial services and healthcare industries working in areas from general IT to privacy practices and security programs. We are confident we can help minimize your compliance pain by applying that part of our background to helping you understand your program. But where we tend to really add value for our clients also happens to be where we tend to have the most fun with our work: By helping Cover Compliance clients get what they need from their compliance program through creative use of realizing the full power that exists in the “basic” desktop software that nearly every business already owns and that most use every day.