Does the term compliance set your teeth on edge? Do the managers and compliance management team in your organization shudder every time a new regulation or law comes into being? When you get that dreaded meeting request or email saying ‘audit’, be it internal or external, does your brow furrow? You are most certainly not alone in such feelings – every employee at every level of an organization knows regulatory compliance and audit policies adherence are a requirement, and the sheer number of them is headache-inducing.
Non-adherence to the myriad regulations by myriad regulatory bodies can result in heavy fines, the imposition of penalties and loss of reputation—stakes are high indeed. And the imperative to remain compliant is organization-wide. However, it falls to the IT department in particular to keep internal data and, especially, sensitive customer information safe. Organizations cannot be reactive about compliance management – they must establish measures and protocols upfront to safeguard against security threats, slippage and any requirements falling through the cracks. So, given that it is an unavoidable fact of every organization, is there a way to make compliance management less terrifying and arduous?
Well, there are. A good place to start is with employees, and ensuring that they know the requirements. Institute strong security policies and make sure they are followed. Having IT security policies that are intelligible to the non-IT members of your organization, and explaining their import and the consequences of failing to follow them, are key to employee cooperation. Having managers who are not afraid to follow up and confront employees on non-compliance is also worth it, since the larger fallout of being non-compliant is serious. Similarly, having a clear-cut policy about devices and access to company documents from non-secured devices is critical. In the age of Cloud, making sure that the information stored online is secure and accessed appropriately is another way to work towards compliance. External stakeholders, like vendors and partners, too have to be made aware of and involved in your organization’s efforts to follow regulations and remain compliant. Buy-in from all stakeholders is required, and having clear-cut policies is one way to ease the burden.
Some companies are using software to help organizations track and work on maintaining their compliance status across different regulations. At the end of the day, without accurate data and timely information, compliance management becomes an extremely unwieldy task. Data then, is your friend in this process. However, as we all know, unstructured and unfiltered data will be difficult to analyze and track. Thus, implementing compliance management software is a solution more and more companies today consider seriously. Data aggregation is key, in order to make sense of, and appropriately make use of the various data collected. Compliance is also an expensive business, and having properly compiled and aggregated data also helps with keeping the costs down.
Thus, with a combination of planning, technology and close monitoring, compliance management, while always a difficult task, does not have to be quite as terrifying and monstrous, or indeed unpleasant and unwieldy, as it often comes across. Being prepared, well informed and organized will go a long way in making compliance management less of a headache.
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