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Signal Regulatory Solutions helps regulators improve their operational performance. Contact us to talk about improving the work you do in these areas.

Regulatory Strategy and Decision Making

Regulators have a critical mission, yet do not always consider or apply theory to their regulatory work, which may lead to unaddressed risk, inconsistent decision making, and poor use of resources.

Signal can help regulators better understand models of strategic regulatory operations that have been proposed in the academic literature, including:

  • Right-touch
  • Smart
  • Responsive
  • Really responsive
  • Problem-oriented
  • Risk-based

In conducting an analysis of the regulator’s approach, Signal will first explore the status quo.

  • Does the organization have any underlying philosophy or model to guide your regulatory work?
  • No regulator has infinite resources. In conducting your core regulatory work, how do you allocate resources and priorities?
  • Are all regulated entities approached in the same way?
  • What are the pros and cons of tailoring your approaches to different regulated entities?
  • What role, if any, do risk assessment and harm reduction play in your regulatory strategy?
  • How do you engage other organizations in assisting with your regulatory mission?
  • What approach does your organization take when making regulatory decisions?
  • Do you articulate principles to guide your decision-making?
  • Are decisions based on data?
  • What role does risk assessment play, if any, in guiding your decision making and resource allocation?
  • Do you seek to understand the causes of harmful attitudes and behaviours?
  • Do you take into account the response and attitude of the regulatee?

There is not necessarily a single right strategy or approach to regulatory decision making. However – it is important to explicitly consider and determine a rational and defensible approach that is right for your organization.

Operational Programs and Processes

Signal can help regulators design, implement, review and improve regulatory programs and processes, including:

  • registration or licensing,
  • quality assurance,
  • complaints,
  • investigations,
  • inspections,
  • discipline or incapacity proceedings,
  • enforcement, and
  • compliance monitoring.

Consider your regulatory operations with the following questions in mind.

  • How well do your programs align with and contribute to your organization’s legislative objectives? Your strategic objectives?
  • What is the effectiveness and impact of your programs? How do you measure and report on impact?
  • How does risk inform the planning and execution of your programs?
  • Are your processes fair? Transparent? Legally defensible?
  • If you are a professional regulator, how do you manage practice problems stemming from health issues?
  • Are your processes as lean as possible?
  • How are you ensuring continuous quality improvement of your processes?
  • What uses do you make of data from your regulatory processes?

Performance Measurement and Improvement

One of the most difficult challenges facing regulators is the selection of meaningful performance indicators.

Most organizations have some performance indicators in place. However, it is helpful to occasionally review existing performance measurement systems for effectiveness.

  • At the departmental level, what kind of key performance indicators (KPIs) have you developed? To whom is this information reported, and to what use is it put?
  • Which data, systems, applications and staff support your reporting?
  • Has your organization developed a regulatory impact framework?
  • Whether you have developed an impact framework or not, which indicators are you relying upon to determine the organization’s overall effectiveness in its mission?
  • Who reviews performance indicators, and how often?
  • As with operational process reviews, how does your performance monitoring contribute to continuous quality improvement?

Signal can help you develop more meaningful performance indicators within an overall regulatory impact framework.

Analytics Strategy

All regulators collect data regarding their activities, such as numbers of inspections, investigations and complaints, benchmarks and turnaround times. However, to fully realize the benefits of your data, a deeper analytics strategy is needed.

Regulators need to ask themselves what they can do to optimize their use of data.

  • Does your organization practice good data governance?
  • What kinds of data are collected internally? What external data may be relevant to you?
  • Which IT system(s) do you use? Do you use more than one system, and if so, how are the systems integrated? Who has access to the data within the system, for the purpose of answering queries and developing reports?
  • At what stage of analytics maturity is your organization? Are you relying on data solely to describe what you are doing (descriptive analytics)? Do you use your data for predictive regulatory modeling (predictive analytics)? Do you use it to help prescribe your regulatory actions (prescriptive analytics)?
  • How is your data used to define, assess, predict and mitigate risk?

Signal can help you assess your current state of analytics maturity, and develop and implement a more effective strategy.

Risk Control Practices

Regulators are tasked with two kinds of risk control: enterprise risk management, which is concerned with managing risks to the organization itself; and public risk management, which is concerned with controlling risks to the populations at whom your regulatory mission is directed (e.g., patients). While there is some overlap between these activities, there are also key distinctions and even conflicts.

Many regulators have begun to develop enterprise risk management registers, which should be regularly monitored and adjusted, and reported to the board. However, the majority of regulators have not yet embraced explicit public risk management strategies.

If your organization remains at an early stage of public risk control, consider the following.

  • Do you use risk analysis to help inform your regulatory activities?
  • Does your organization have a risk framework in place, to guide risk identification and assessment, and its role in regulatory decision-making?
  • If you do have a framework to address public risk, is it formal or informal? Qualitative or quantitative?
  • Does your organization’s data practices and systems support robust risk assessment? If not – what needs to be done to achieve this?
  • What kinds of monitoring does your organization carry out to identify emerging, less-salient or novel risks to the public?
  • How do you monitor for risks that arise at a systemic, or cumulative level, vs. risk posed by individual regulated entities?
  • How much – if any – of your risk information is made available to the public?

Signal can help you assess your current state of risk management, and to develop more effective strategies to control public risk.

Strategic Human Resources

Very little attention is paid in the literature to the role of organizational health and management practices in supporting regulatory effectiveness. Regulators are by nature bureaucratic organizations, which often entail a lack of a professional management culture, a tendency to work in silos, and a lack of the flexibility needed to meet modern operational challenges.

In assessing organizational health, regulators need to consider:

  • What governance practices are in place? Are roles, accountabilities and responsibilities, and decision-making clear?
  • What organizational values does your organization espouse? If you have identified values, are they actually put into practice?
  • How would you describe your management model and culture?
    • Where do your managers fall on the spectrum between facilitators/coaches and autocrats?
    • Are managers themselves provided with mentoring or coaching services?
    • How transparent is your workplace?
      • Are managers aware of the actual work their staff does?
      • Do people understand the work of their colleagues, and how their own work fits with their colleagues’ work?
      • Are goals, objectives and progress towards these clear and visible across the organization?
    • Is subject matter expertise the primary hiring criterion, or do your recruitment practices also consider “soft” skills such as communications and collaboration?
    • Are politicians rewarded?
  • Does information flow freely across departments?
    • Is interdepartmental work the norm or the exception?
    • Are all employees expected to fully cooperate, across teams, departments and organizations, or are they instead rewarded for focusing only on their own work or silo?
  • Are all department, functions and staff in full strategic alignment with the organization’s objectives?
  • Are employees engaged with their work?
  • How flexible and resilient is your organization?

Signal can assist you to develop the staff culture and engagement needed to be an effective regulator, and can assist with interim management, and team and individual coaching.