Throughout 2021, the United States has witnessed a significant shift in the labor market, with individuals leaving jobs in historic numbers. Throughout manufacturing, open positions across departments has left Operations groups with resource constraints for extended periods of time, impacting efficiency and creating bottlenecks.
Compliance professionals are no exception to these resource constraints. Lack of resources has affected everything from day-to-day recordkeeping and monitoring to the ability to meet reporting requirements and customer information requests.
When your team is facing resource constraints, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact. Understanding how to streamline and build resiliency across your workflow can help your compliance team continue to operate smoothly despite challenges.
Assess Your Work
Adding an assessment task to your to-do list may not seem like a solution. But well-planned time invested in assessing departmental compliance workflows can pay long-term dividends and help keep things on track.
If you are facing resource constraints, day-to-day workflows may not be able to keep pace with current business operations. Personnel turn over and production modifications may cause your operations to struggle to meet expectations. You may have developed workarounds that were once temporary but have unfortunately become a standard part of your process and caused unnecessary inefficiencies.
Performing an assessment will help you identify these issues and take the first steps toward improvements.
Your assessment should include several factors:
Work—Understand the specific tasks that you and your department are responsible for.
Time Requirements—What time commitment is needed to complete the required tasks? What percentage of time is usually spent engaging in a task?
Priority—With a list of all required tasks, prioritize the most important.
Resources Assigned—Understand what resources are used to complete tasks.
Workflow Steps—Identify the specific workflow steps that are used to complete tasks.
Systems and Tools—Identify all of the systems and tools used by your team to complete the required tasks.
Bottlenecks—Identify specific bottlenecks that are causing issues in your workflow.
Once you have thoroughly assessed your work, use your inventory to identify what can be improved. This may include reorganizing resources to address priorities, finding more efficient systems, or changing the workflow process.
While there may be a great deal of improvements that can be made, use the prioritization list you made during your assessment to tackle and implement change accordingly. Wherever possible, work should align to business objectives and support organizational goals and should be prioritized as such. Remembering this foundational element will help you make improvements in ways that will most benefit your team and company.
Also remember to be creative in problem solving bottlenecks and roadblocks. The best solution may not be the most obvious one. Work through the issue with parties involved and be sure to understand their challenges, listening to their recommendations and ideas.
If you need to request additional resources in order to make the improvements your team needs, be specific with your requests. Identify exactly what you need, why you need it and how it will help. Being specific with your issues and their solutions will lead to better results, whether you are requesting additional resources from management or trying to get your team to buy in to new processes.
Find Quick Wins
When adapting workflows to meet the challenges of resource constraints, finding quick wins that will empower your team and introduce immediate relief is a good place to get started.
One way to do this is to leverage existing systems. Management systems are the backbone of manufacturing and should be integrated into your work, not be products of it. Use the management system(s) already in place to assign work where it can be done most practically and routinely.
You can also leverage existing documentation tools, systems, and software. Be flexible with your solutions and seek processes that have high integration potential. Spreading compliance management tasks across existing systems, functions, and roles of the organization helps the improvements to be more easily incorporated.
Making these quick improvements encourages buy-in from across the organization and gives your team the flexibility to adapt workflows to well-established processes and tools. Helping your team to make improvements within a system they are already used to will make your changes more impactful while also being easier to adopt.
Outsourcing work can also be a solution to some situations, but not all. This can be a successful strategy in cases when significant tasks can be packaged to work seamlessly with other portions of the workflow. This strategy should be reviewed against elements of the work inventory to provide a picture of internal outsourcing feasibility. Additionally, the capabilities and experience of outsourced parties and consultants should be taken into consideration to gauge the overall value outsourcing would provide to your department.
Get Compliance Support
When you are facing resource constraints, directing resources toward performing an assessment of your systems may seem like it will add an even bigger burden to your workload. But understanding your systems and where you can make improvements is crucial to minimizing the impact of these resource constraints in the long term.
If you need help assessing your compliance management processes, contact Tetra Tech today. Our team of compliance professional can help you assess your compliance program and find solutions for long-term success.