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Employees to be quizzed over compliance

A software application launched on Thursday will force workers to take regular tests on company policies - and could help to keep management out of jail
Written by Dan Ilett, Contributor

Employees could soon be tested to see whether they have read and understood company policies on issues such as data protection and financial disclosure.

Zequel, a company that sells compliance products, has released a policy management software tool that can quiz workers on their understanding of company rules.

The tool, DynamicPolicy, allows IT managers to distribute policies to all work station computers in their company. Once an employee receives a policy notification, they are unable to carry out other tasks until they have read and accepted the document.

But to prevent workers from simply ticking boxes and ignoring the content, administrators can set a test that employees are forced to answer correctly before they can move on. That information is then logged and stored so companies can be certain their employees have read and understood the policies.

"Virtually nobody reads the agreement when you tick the box on Microsoft licences," said Tim Wickes, chief executive officer of Zequel Limited. "It's the same with any software. Is that reliable?"

"Testing is one word for this, but it's actually education," Wickes added. "It's the sort of system that someone in [human resources] could administer. You've then got the mechanism to prove people have read and understood."

Companies and other organisations are under increasing pressure to show they have adhered to compliance regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act. Some of these, especially Sarbanes Oxley, state that company board members are liable to go to jail if they fail to comply.

"SMEs don't have compliance officers," Wickes added. "'Governance' is a word that has been tacked on to someone's job title. So each test is logged in an audit trail that tells you who took it and when. It doesn't absolve a manager's responsibility, but it is a tool to build evidence."

The product works with Active Directory, which means that administrators can use existing employee details for the tool.

Zequel launched the product in the UK on Wednesday.

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