Compliance is either a state of being in accordance with established guidelines, specifications, or legislation or the process of becoming so. Software, for example, may be developed in compliance with specifications created by some standards body, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and may be distributed in compliance with the vendor's licensing agreement. In the legal system, compliance usually refers to behavior in accordance with legislation, such as the United States Can Spam Act of 2003, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) of 2002, or HIPAA (United States Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).

Compliance in a regulatory context is a prevalent business concern, perhaps because of an ever-increasing number of regulations and a fairly widespread lack of understanding about what is required for a company to be in compliance with new legislation. In the financial sector, SOX was enacted in response to the high-profile Enron and WorldCom financial scandals to protect shareholders and the general public from accounting errors and fraudulent practices in the enterprise. In the healthcare sector, HIPAA Title II includes an administrative simplification section which mandates standardization of healthcare-related information systems.

As compliance has increasingly become a concern of corporate management, corporations are turning to specialized software, consultancies, and even a new job title, the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO).

To explore how compliance relates to the enterprise, here are some additional resources:

Governance, risk and compliance software (GRC) trends and best practices: This podcast with expert Michael Rasmussen provides insight into the GRC software market and GRC software best practices.

Sarbanes-Oxley four years later: Governance, risk and compliance now demands a comprehensive approach: GRC is now a priority for most organizations trying to meet Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) requirements more effectively, according to experts. Find out what role technology plays in these efforts.

This was last updated in May 2010
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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