“What are other companies of our size doing?”  This question plagues compliance officers in all corners of the world in all industries.  Benchmarking our programs and getting concrete information about what others are doing is critical to making our program a success.  But it can be difficult – where do we find the data we need?

Unfortunately, there is no one source for all data.  However, there are plenty of places to find information.  These include:

1.      Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics Surveys

I’ve been using the SCCE’s data and survey results as a benchmarking tool for years.  They have salary surveys, surveys on how compliance interacts with the Board – even surveys regarding staffing and budget.  This is my go-to source to start any benchmarking exercise. (full disclosure – I’m on the Board of Directors at the SCCE – but I still love and use their material!)

2.      Compliance Vendors Surveys

Compliance vendors produce some of the best surveys and reports.  Steele Solutions, NAVEX Global, GAN Integrity and others create outstanding reports.  Even better?  They often offer webinars going through the results of their surveys.  Sign up for their lists, and download their materials, even if you don’t need the data right now.  By gathering the information before you need it, you’ll be ready to respond when the C-Suite, Board, or management requests for benchmarking information.

3.      Conference Presentations

Many conference presentations include case studies from real companies.  Increasingly, at conference events thought leaders and compliance specialists describe how they run their programs.  Take pictures of the most important slides, or download the presentation deck from presenters of companies of a similar size to yours, or in the same industry. 

4.      Peers

It’s true – you need to build your network before you need it.  One reason to build your network is so you can call on it to find out what others are doing.  When I was a CCO at United International Pictures, several other CCOs had an informal email group where we could ask each other benchmarking questions.  Set up your own group by introducing your peers to each other.  You’ll be grateful to have someone to call on.

5.      Blogs

Blogs like this one can be an invaluable source of benchmarking information.  The Corporate Compliance and Ethics Blog, the FCPA Blog and ETHIC Intelligence Expert’s Corner can provide valuable information and keep you up-to-date on what other companies are doing.

6.      Deferred Prosecution Agreements and Corporate Integrity Agreements

Want to know what regulators are expecting when it comes to compliance programs?  Read the text of Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA) and Corporate Integrity Agreements (CIA).  DPAs and CIAs often lay out the terms of corporate monitorships, or the expectations the regulator has for a company that will allow it to avoid prosecution.  It’s like interviewing the prosecutor or judge to find out what is expected of a top-notch program.

7.      Regulatory Guidance

The regulators frequently issue guidance which can be critical to ensuring your program is up to snuff.  The UK Ministry of Justice, the US Department of Justice, and French Anti-Corruption Agency provide terrific guidance on interpreting the law.  Agencies like the Office of Foreign Asset Control publish interpretive guidance in response to letters and inquiries sent by companies and individuals.  Read the guidance published by regulators to find out what they expect.

8.      Corporate Monitorship Organizations

The International Association of Independent Corporate Monitors has an online resource center that features numerous articles about corporate monitorships, including articles on compliance programs and the interaction of monitors with companies.  This collection aggregates information from a vast number of sources, making it a great resource.

9.      Law Firm and Consulting Firm Newsletters

Many consulting firms and law firms send out information about new laws and regulations.  They also frequently create their own surveys and benchmarking papers.  For instance, PWC’s annual “State of Compliance” survey provides great information and statistics about what’s going on in the industry.  Call your favorite law firm or go online and sign-up for their newsletters.

10.  Your Own Past Performance

Benchmarking your program against your own past performance can be an extremely useful exercise.  Look at how far your program has come.  Has it lost resources?  Has it gained them?  How much has your program improved over time?  Your past performance can give you a great benchmark to show where you need to go next.

While there is no single resource for all benchmarking information, by choosing one or more from the resources listed above, you’ll be able to easily answer the dreaded, “What are other companies doing?” question.