Understanding what compliance solutions best fit your company can help you take full advantage of its compliance management and monitoring features, and maximize the benefits. To help you make the most of your software search, we’re taking a look at the best cloud-based compliance tools and rollout methods to boost the effectiveness of compliance management and monitoring in any organization.
Compliance monitoring is the continuous process of ensuring that your organization is following all policies and procedures to identify and respond to compliance risks. Less structured and scheduled than compliance auditing, compliance monitoring oversees day-to-day operations to identify potential risks, verify that regulatory compliance standards are being met and confirm that the privacy and protection of data are maintained.
In an increasingly complex business environment, compliance management tools can help an organization keep track of the many moving parts that affect day-to-day business operations. Staying in compliance with the laws, regulations, and standards that apply to your business is critical. Compliance software can save your reputation and money if so much as a toe steps out of line. But finding the right fit is more important than ever when business policies are melding with the functions of management tools.
CHALLENGES AND CONSIDERATIONS IN COMPLIANCE MONITORING
Organizations need to address several challenges and considerations to ensure that their compliance monitoring is effective to avoid oversights, disruption and legal penalties:
- Changing regulations. A constantly changing regulatory environment can make it difficult for compliance officers to keep track of all applicable requirements. Organizations need to stay up-to-date with the latest laws and regulations and have the ability to adjust compliance procedures to avoid risking noncompliance and the resulting, potentially costly, consequences.
- Different industry standards. Every industry has its own requirements, and each accrediting agency has different policies and guidelines. In addition, many industries are subject to multiple and overlapping regulations, which make it even more challenging for compliance monitoring to account for and implement all necessary requirements.
- International operations. Organizations that operate in different countries must comply with all local laws and regulations. Compliance monitoring must be capable of efficiently managing each country’s regulations, all with their own nuances and requirements, including differences in language, monetary systems, and cultural barriers.
- The size of the organization. Smaller organizations may face resource constraints, such as a shortage of budget and staff, making it challenging to implement comprehensive compliance monitoring programs. Larger enterprises are far more complex and need expansive compliance monitoring tools to effectively detect compliance violations.
- Employee training. An organization’s employees need to be aware of all compliance requirements and receive adequate training. Compliance monitoring cannot be effective without effective employee training on their compliance responsibilities and obligations.
Addressing all of these challenges is essential for effective compliance monitoring and will require organizations to establish a robust compliance program.
BEST PRACTICES IN COMPLIANCE MONITORING
While every industry has its own particular compliance requirements, there are certain best practices that are essential to maximize the efficiency of a compliance monitoring platform. A well-designed compliance monitoring program will make your compliance team more effective while driving efficiency in monitoring compliance risk throughout your organization. Here are some of the key best practices:
- Create comprehensive compliance policies and procedures: It is essential to develop clear, comprehensive, and up-to-date compliance policies and procedures that are easily accessible to all employees. Policies and procedures should cover all relevant regulations and account for both internal compliance monitoring and external annual audits.
- Establish standard resources and operations: Part of having set policies and procedures is to design, manage, and update all relevant resources and ensure they’re available for employees. This includes tools, such as an incident and policy management tool and reporting templates, as well as clear protocols for all processes, from employee training to consequences for non-compliance.
- Perform regular audits and reviews: Compliance monitoring programs should conduct regular internal audits and reviews of compliance processes and controls to identify gaps and areas for improvement. The audit process itself should be reviewed to ensure that all standards are up-to-date and that the regulations have not changed.
- Enforce strong data security practices: Take all appropriate steps to keep your data secure and your firm reputation intact by limiting access to the system. Have systems in place to properly train your employees on how to recognize and respond to potential threats and risks.
- Implement automated monitoring tools: Invest in compliance monitoring technology and similar automated tools to identify and analyze potential compliance violations. Compliance automation can track all employee activity and records in one centralized place, including documents, trades, and annual certifications. Organizations that adopt automated tools such as compliance software can be more confident they can provide the necessary documentation to relevant regulatory bodies in the event of an audit.
- Research your compliance platform vendor: If your company is considering purchasing a compliance monitoring platform from a vendor, research the vendor and their monitoring platform. Get references from other clients. Ask to see a software roadmap and demos. Find out how the vendor backs up records and how easily they can be produced, in the event of an audit. Ask the vendor if they conduct their own third-party audits, to ensure they are meeting the highest industry standards as a compliance tech provider.
VARIETY IN SOFTWARE
Compliance software is an expansive area of the business world where finding the most applicable qualities of a program can boost the health and productivity of a company. Compliance monitoring tools can vary in pricing, policy management, risk management, and areas of expertise.
General-purpose compliance tools can cover any industry and provide a more universal approach to monitoring risks, technical issues, and company governance. On the other end of the spectrum, there are specific purpose compliance tools that focus on a particular industry or sector like finance or healthcare.
While both of these compliance tools are helpful, there is a more robust option for those who need it. GRC, or governance, risk, and compliance, software that can connect to other internal initiatives to streamline the monitoring process. It is proficient in reducing risks and covering more ground.
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT
Whichever option fits best, having compliance management tools can provide a multitude of benefits. So with the different options available in software and the different benefits it can give a company, how do you find the best compliance tools for your business?
Here are some points to consider:
- Are you a public or private company?
- Which sector do you operate in (SaaS, healthcare, etc)?
- What job role types do you employ (e.g. marketers, managerial roles, designers)?
- Which local laws and regulations apply to your business?
- Do you retain and use private data?
- Do you have local or international customers or both?
Once you have reviewed these points and explored options for compliance software, it is a good time to consider which reflects your business the best.
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HOW TO ROLL OUT YOUR COMPLIANCE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
Finding the best fit for compliance management tools is important but so is finding the right approach in rolling out the software. This implementation period will aid in the overall success of the compliance software.
- Consider what the rollout will look like – every company has a different IT infrastructure and different implementation needs
- Consider risk and liability – an in-house solution can reduce the number of third parties involved in a software implementation but will need more internal resources to keep it up-to-date
- Look for automation options – this is crucial for reducing operating expenses, minimizing human error, and maintaining consistent performance
- Evaluate management capabilities – these should allow adequate monitoring of corporate risks, policies, projects, internal auditing, quality management, document management
- Data protection – protection of customer/user data is more important than ever and critical in many industries
- Training and ownership – understand which departments need to be involved in the vetting process, what training will be required, and what the onboarding process will look like
There are many facets in the world of compliance management tools that can make it difficult to find the perfect match. Understanding your company’s specific needs will provide you with a great foundation to build upon and move forward with confidence.