Modern businesses are data-driven, and that fact has put compliance and data governance at the forefront of contemporary security and IT support. With so much information, much of it pertaining to private consumer issues like finances, health, and Personal Identifiable Information (PII), it’s imperative for businesses to comply with regulations that protect that data from theft or unlawful viewing. That’s why businesses are turning to compliance process automation to make auditing and reporting faster, more efficient, and more accurate.
Unfortunately, compliance is complex. Likewise, companies that manage information in multiple industries face the exponentially difficult problem of managing multiple regulatory standards at the same time. Reporting, data monitoring, and regular audits take weeks, if not months, to complete.
New technologies in auditing and compliance have turned to automation as a solution. Here, we discuss compliance process automation and why your business should be using it right now to cut costs and guarantee accuracy in compliance regardless of industry.
Why Do You Need Compliance Process Automation?
Compliance is a difficult task because regulation and compliance are increasingly complex. Not only are technologies and regulations becoming larger and more interconnected, but the reporting processes, and people-hours needed to manage them effectively, are increasing exponentially.
Compliance demands aren’t shirking or streamlining: they are expanding to touch on all points where data and security are potentially threatened. Following that, there are substantial demands from regulatory bodies:
- Accurate and rapid compliance reporting. When a compliance deadline is set, regulators expect businesses to manage their reporting and compliance around that timeline. When compliance takes weeks, or even months, planning for such deadlines becomes a massive liability for productivity.
- Different frameworks have different requirements. When a company has several compliance frameworks to attend to, it just means more reporting and a more comprehensive snapshot of how different internal processes adhere to multiple standards.
- Complex companies have too much of everything. Too many people, too many teams, overlapping jurisdictions… at which point the auditing and compliance process blows up exponentially.
All of these contribute to slow processing, costly compliance audits, and unproductive teams. These downsides are only exacerbated when using stone-age tools like regular spreadsheets and emails.
One way that modern auditors have been addressing these challenges is through compliance process automation. While compliance is a complex process, it also contains several rote and repeatable steps. Automation is therefore the perfect solution to lessen the burden of these steps. Automation helps your compliance efforts by:
- Removing the tedium of reporting. Gathering data and building reports is the most rote of compliance processes, and automation tools can make long reporting schedules much more manageable.
- Maintaining up-to-date records. Automated reporting tools not only save time, but help keep your organization plugged into the latest updates in terms of regulations, requirements, and operational data. Not only is reporting faster, but it can be more accurate.
- Confidence and accuracy. With automation, you can rest a little easier if the actual data collected is accurate without relying on double-checking to mitigate human error. And, if there are errors, they can be quickly addressed in the automation software itself.
What Are Some Best Practices for Compliance Process Automation?
Using automation makes reporting and compliance that much easier. But it’s still necessary to implement some best practices and changes in your compliance processes to fully leverage automation:
- Ditch stone-age tools. While emails, spreadsheets, and other documents will remain in the compliance process, they shouldn’t be your go-to for reporting. Not only do they limit how fast and robust your reporting system is, but they also limit how transparent and accurate your data-gathering is overall.
- Focus on security. Compliance reporting is still subject to the same security regulations that the rest of your data is. Maintain tight security and encryption on all emails, messaging, or file-sharing platforms so that your reports are secure.
- Move to the cloud. If you’re an on-prem shop, then it’s time to consider moving to the cloud for your storage and reporting software. Not only do cloud platforms provide the kind of agility that many companies need more broadly, but they can help your internal teams and security partners better automate your reporting. Having a cloud system also makes it easier to automate things like version and backup control for critical documents.
- Build out a sensible document lifecycle. Managing documents and scheduling is perhaps one of the most laborious tasks in compliance and auditing. Document management systems (DMS) can support things like document updating and deletion, email updates, and automation based on specific operational and business rules.
- Focus on Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) as essential aspects of your business. With automated tools, you can build rules that help you think about the bigger picture of GRC. Monitor and control how employees access data (and, thus, their adherence to company and compliance standards). Following that, you and company leadership can focus on building a strategic view of compliance.
- Automate training. If you’ve automated GRC, you can just as easily automate training through document management and onboarding. New employees can get the right compliance training when they join, and regular team members can have any required continuing education requirements implemented through a centralized system.
What it Means to Streamline Your Compliance Workflow
At this point, you may see how automation supports a much easier, accurate, and more efficient compliance process. Streamlining your workflow, however, gets at the heart of your relationship with regulations in your industry. Even though you are automating business processes, you’ll still need to have someone in charge to handle the human-centric aspects of your compliance demands.
Most companies with regulatory demands will have a compliance officer in place. It might be this person’s job to directly manage compliance, or handle larger, business-focused decisions about working with security partners. In either case, this person will likely be responsible for handling compliance across the spectrum of demands in a company: security compliance, internal standards, HR and hiring, document retention, and so on.
Automation is the direction that compliance is headed, and for good reason. Automating compliance processes makes a laborious process that much easier for your team, reducing the time and cost associated with reporting and data gathering.
More importantly, automation is going to improve accuracy and efficiency. As compliance tasks become more complex, and as more IT businesses serve customers and clients in multiple regulated industries, it will become that much easier to make simple mistakes that can turn into major breaches of regulation.
Investing in automation doesn’t have to entail a huge infrastructural overhaul for your organization, however. Trained and experienced companies like Continuum GRC provide modern automation platforms that help convert your reporting efforts from difficult tasks to simple ones. Even better, their expertise and technology provide you with the tools that you’ll need to operationalize compliance data to better work for you as part of your business strategy.
Continuum GRC is a security platform that provides compliance and audit automation for your governance, risk management, and compliance needs. If you want to learn how to move away from stone-age tools and start making compliance work better for your business, call 1-888-896-6207 to talk more with the experts.