No one wants to lie on the wrong side of compliance. Other than the hefty fines that come with non-compliance, you might have to accept the burden of losing a couple of customers. For instance, failing to comply with security regulations can easily lead to you losing customers who value data security, not to mention the idea of your business’ reputation taking a hit. A good case in point would be the story of Facebook which lost 3% of their stock value ($13 million) after they disclosed a cyber-attack in 2018.
As much as regulations are meant to create a standard atmosphere for each industry, it is never enough to venture into compliance manually. Not only can the work you need to do be tedious and time-consuming, but the chances of committing costly human errors in the compliance process are high. As a result, embracing automation in the process can help eliminate these burdens while improving the audibility and cost-effectiveness of the outcomes.
Here is a guide on how to best approach compliance automation:
» Understanding Compliance Workflow
It is standard for workflows to depend on the human touch. From time to time, someone will need to oversee setting specific tasks and offering them to respective employees. On the other hand, the same person will need to monitor the tasks to ensure that the deadlines are respected and so is the expected quality level.
When dealing with compliance workflow, the task of assigning and monitoring it falls on the compliance officer. Often, these officers need to be on their toes to identify any issues in the workflow compliance process and improve it with time. However, the tasks cannot be achieved without optimized communication throughout the whole organization to maintain visibility and streamline the tasks.
While the conventional compliance workflow systems would have supported your organization, the task of managing the workflow often turns into a burden once the organization scales upwards. For instance, it can be quite easy to lose email conversations and crucial notifications while concentrating on daily business meetings and operations. Additionally, using an archaic process to embrace compliance can not only improve the chances of missing deadlines but also overwhelm the officer in charge with inefficiencies.
» Why Compliance Workflow Automation Matters
Automation is critical when it comes to streamlining the standard business processes. You can rely on software to help track and renew compliance processes regularly rather than doing this manually.
Case in point, having enough visibility into your patch management process is a pivotal part of remaining compliant with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requirements. To stay compliant, you will need to be in constant communication with IT departments by sending and receiving the necessary documents. The chances that the IT team might lose the thread of emails that you send them which detail the compliance requirements cannot be ignored.
Often, it is the compliance officer who needs to follow up on the uncompleted tasks due to these mistakes. This requires you to nag the responsible team by sending them reminder emails- which often must be more than one email. Automation allows you to approach this with a ‘set and forget’ mentality whereby you can have better control of the process and spare some time to do other intensive tasks.
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» The Power of Streamlining the Compliance Process
In their line of work, compliance officers need to ensure that the whole organization is compliant with more than one compliance setup. For instance, some officers need to concentrate on cyber security compliance, as well as internal operations, human resources and document retention requirements. However, as the industry standard and regulations get updated, the tasks of balancing all requirements become complex.
Often, having their hands full with all these requirements can lead to them ignoring some aspects of compliance, and this can easily lead to hefty fines due to non-compliance. For instance, failure to comply with HIPAA regulations can lead to fines that range from $100 to $50,000 for each violation- depending on the level of negligence. What makes this worse is that disclosing personally identifiable health information to a non-authorized party can lead to a jail term of one year in combination with a $50,000 fine. This means that failure to comply can result in both financial and personal repercussion for the party that is negligent.
With automation, you can streamline the workflow and make the compliance process quite easy. It also makes auditing the compliance efforts easier as the audits often require the auditing officers to have access to documented procedures, policies, and processes. Since automation ensures that all these documents can be found in a single location, auditing your firm will be less complicated.
» Best Practices for Working with Compliance Management Software
Each compliance tool has its own features and functionality. Since no organization is made equal to the next, despite being in similar industries, it is mandatory to find a tool that fits right into your compliance requirements. Ideally, you need to understand the ease of using a tool, the features it offers and what your firm needs. Here is how to best use the tools:
› Assign Responsibilities
For the compliance process to be successful, each individual needs to ensure that they commit to their specific responsibilities. Sadly, it can be quite common for people to lose track of what they should be doing compliance wise as the organization scales. On the other hand, compliance tasks also change as employees change the role they play in the organization.
The first step to a well-designed compliance process would be to assign responsibilities to everyone who is involved in the compliance process. While IT managers should be aware of the documents that they should be providing, human resource managers along with other managers need to identify where their roles might overlap with that of the IT department to avoid redundancy.
If an employee shifts to a new task (for example, a marketing member moves to the sales team), they will no longer offer the same information to the compliance officer. As a result, there also needs to be enough communication between departments to ensure standardization in compliance.
› Assigns Task
Each responsible party should be aware of the type of documentation that they ought to provide the compliance officer. These tasks can range from answering auditor review questions to even presenting automated reports from log monitoring and other security functions.
Working with a workflow automation tool makes the assignment and monitoring of these tasks quite easy. Additionally, it can allow you to send reminders to the responsible individuals when the need arises. It will also offer you enough visibility into the completed tasks and the overdue ones.
› Store Documentation
Compliance is heavily reliant on documentation and document control. While auditors may have some level of trust in your business, they will need proof in the form of documentation that you align your operational procedures with the compliance requirements. Often, you can showcase this by offering documentation showing how you monitor your operations and keep processes at par with the set policies.
A great compliance automation tool will not only help track the tasks and human side of compliance, but it will also make document retention flawless. The tool makes it easier to search through documentation using tags to the responsible parties instead of relying on a shared cloud drive. Additionally, using the tool helps rid your business of human error which can be costly when it comes to getting audited.
Time is of value and using compliance automation systems to spare some can be pivotal to growing your business. These tools take most of the burden of the redundant tasks from any compliance officer, making it easier to concentrate on new compliance requirements. In turn, you can avoid the cost implications of being non-compliant due to negligence or human error.