The iComply Methodology

May 18, 2020
Featured image for “The iComply Methodology”

iComply Methodology

When explaining how iComply works with prospective clients, we demo our service offerings. We discuss how we work to achieve a level of compliance management tailored to our client’s needs and budgets. In every case, we explain the iComply Methodology. We’ve honed in since 2011 and proudly collaborated with our beloved cannabis business owners, managers, and stakeholders to create this methodology.

Consequently, our methodology became simple and effective. We’re proud, after all, that our clients do not make the news for violations or being shut down. We know it works. While simple enough on the surface, here we offer a deeper understanding of how and why our methods work for all types of clients. Whether you’re applying for a cannabis license, establishing operations, or a seasoned veteran, this methodology creates success for business owners.

We designed all of our compliance management packages to include this methodology at various levels of frequency, service, and depth.Furthermore, we advocate three important foundational pillars to our methodology to ensure the most relevant, effective, and comprehensive, risk management services. 

Fundamentally, we make sure our clients receive insight and support to ensuring:

  1. Compliant Processes
  2. Compliant People
  3. Compliance Measures and Management

Compliant Processes

Firstly, compliance starts on paper. Literally. From facility designs, HR handbooks, employee training manuals, application representations and warranties, logs, forms, reports, and Standard Operating Procedures, we cover it all. No one effectively and comprehensively manages operational compliance without ensuring the ongoing implementation and accurate management of these vital documents.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) act as bibles for any business, especially in cannabis. They must be living documents by which all other documentation, logs, forms, and training manuals are derived. Unfortunately, most cannabis operators pay little attention to their SOPs once written. They let them sit on a shelf and gather dust. 

Often, we find inadequate SOPs that don’t cover nuances important to effective business management – let alone comprehensive compliance. Most commonly missing are procedures for Equipment Maintenance, Quality Assurance and Control, Sampling/Testing, Bookkeeping, and Onboarding/Offboarding Procedures – just to name a few.

iComply Methodology: Make SOPs Relevant Backbones for Your Cannabusiness

Rules are bound to change as are versions of SOPs and subsequent documents created from them. Review them periodically for accuracy to prevent non-compliance. As well, owners tend to see success when including process validation for testing purposes and product liability issues. Even in our most basic package, we insist on having a third-party SOP and Compliance Documentation review. We know that SOPs act as a foundation for your business. Our review and subsequent report helps our clients identify regulatory requirement changes and areas of improvement. We can take on these areas for our clients or hand them back to clients to edit and have us review later.

Without compliant processes, cannabis companies are bound to experience higher turnover, disgruntled employees (who often snitch to regulators), and inconsistent quality. This directly relates to lost brand value in the eyes of consumers and lost revenue. In turn, this devalues the business. Having developed hundreds of SOPs, we know the value of quality processes and the importance they play in effectively managing compliance.

Compliant People

Once SOPs and subsequent documentation are developed, our clients can run their business on paper. However, we all know it takes people to carry out the intuition behind compliant processes. 

Unfortunately, most workers never read the rules and regulations. They’re written by and for attorneys, not as casual reading material for owners or managers, let alone average industry workers. However, every person with a badge licensed to work in cannabis is expected to know the rules and follow them. Some states even require mandatory training for cannabis workers.

At iComply, we’ve been breaking down the rules and teaching them in normal English since 2012. Instrumental in rulemaking for Colorado’s Responsible Vendor Training Program, we’ve modeled our success into multiple States and emerging markets. 

Corporate compliance training exists as a standard in most heavily regulated industries for a reason. Literally getting everyone on the same page teaches them the intuition and importance of adhering to SOPs, logs, forms, reports, and internal employee training. This also creates a level of accountability and risk mitigation for management to protect workers, jobs, and businesses. 

No one has an excuse to not follow the rules once they learn them. 

The lowest worker on the totem pole can shut down the business over a misunderstanding or mistake. The importance of effective and timely training becomes paramount to protecting licenses and investments. People who know what’s expected of them also tend to stick around, which reduces the amount of turnover plaguing the industry at large.

iComply Methodology: Empower Employees at All Levels to Understand and Maintain Standards

At iComply, we certify individuals and licensed facilities at large. Even in our most basic compliance package level, we include front-line staff training (2-3 hours). This ensures everyone reads from the same page. Solidarity and common culture allows individual employees to operate more effectively in teams. As a team, workers identify their role and responsibility in managing compliance from the ground up. This alleviates risk and increases accountability for everyone. 

Knowledge is power, and complaint procedures require compliant people to ensure cannabis businesses are operating above-board. For operators running larger organizations and multiple cannabis licenses, we offer more extensive Comprehensive Compliance Training programs (5-6 hours). 

We repeat these training sessions annually to ensure new rules are trained to all staff members. This also empowers each team to carry out expectations. We also require new employees to pass their training course within 90 days of hire. This keeps the entire team on the same page and maintains certification in our compliance training program. 

Setting standards and expectations ensures compliance is not skirted or ignored. In doing so, compliance becomes a team effort – not a top-down approach – making it tremendously more effective.

Compliance Measures and Management

Lastly, our methodology ensures that the investment in processes and people endures over the course of time. If SOPs sit on the shelf and people forget their training expectations, cannabis companies set themselves up for failure and for an ineffective return on their compliance investment. 

Simply put, third-party validation, transparency and insight become critical to keeping the train on the right track. At our most basic package service level, we mandate ongoing audits of operational compliance and inventory reconciliation. These services ensure compliance continues and helps keep cannabis employees on their toes. In the event of auditors performing more detrimental inspections, investigations, and audits, our clients can rest easy. Double-checking by a third party creates transparency and legitimacy for the business and the industry at large.

Normally, most markets we service require ongoing compliance management and daily reporting of inventory in electronic systems remotely monitored by regulators. State Seed-to-Sale tracking requirements in METRC, BioTrack, MJ Freeway, and others mandate close monitoring. Accurate inventory reporting allows companies to meet federal and state compliance and ensure the prevention of cannabis diversion.

iComply Methodology: Exhibit Compliance Powerfully through Third-party Verification

Third-party validated audits of operational compliance allows cannabis operators, owners, investors, and stakeholders to obtain transparent and honest insight in our reports to the effectiveness of their training and processes. Furthermore, we customize our ongoing audits by frequency and go in-depth to include books, records, packaging, and labeling reviews at a micro level in addition to macro level auditing and inventory reconciliation.  

You don’t know what you don’t know. By ongoing measures and management of compliance, our clients gain the most valuable aspect of our methodology. This gives businesses the ability to effectively adjust operational compliance infrastructure and personnel. Accordingly, our clients can protect their business with unparalleled peace of mind that eludes most of their competitors.

The iComply Promise

We work collaboratively with our clients on the results of compliance measures to better manage compliance. We work through frequent meetings and consultation to identify and address mutual agendas of compliance concerns and considerations ongoing. Through close collaboration, we help to effectively reduce the largest compliance risks and more efficiently manage client operations over the long-term.

iComply strives to improve operations and future reports on compliance to ensure our clients possess more ammunition and paperwork than the regulators. Consequently, when authorities stop by for a visit or analyze compliance data remotely, our clients possess little to fear. Our methodology works by blending together the most important cannabis business considerations. We designed the iComply Methodology to provide a tremendous return on investment for those savvy enough to invest in their operational cannabis compliance.

We aren’t going anywhere.