You’ve been through the agonizing audit process before, and you’re looking at this year’s audit coming your way. You’ve made a couple of tweaks to your internal process, and you’re communicating with people earlier this year—but it’s still not going to be an easy auditing process. It’ll still be a mess, and it’ll be painful to collect supporting documents from everyone. In a lot of ways, it feels like you’re starting from Square One each year.
There’s got to be a better way of preparing for your audit—some method or tool to make the auditing process easier and simpler. Good news: you’re right! There is a better way. With the right software tool, you can simplify your auditing process and make it much less painful. Here are five things you can do to move toward auditing bliss.
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How to Make the Auditing Process Easier
1) Know Your Status in Real Time
Auditors get a warm fuzzy feeling walking into their meetings, onsite visits and evidence review sessions when it’s clear that the applicant (company applying to be certified) has done their homework and is ready. As an applicant, you need to be able to know exactly which documents have been submitted, which are missing, and who is responsible for getting them to you. In real time. A spreadsheet can’t tell you that, and neither can a cloud storage drive.
TCT Portal makes it easy to know the task status of those on your team, and where a particular requirement is within the compliance workflow, at any moment. Our live dashboard is updated in real time. So when you get to the status dashboard, you see a live view of the state of your compliance engagement.
2) Map Your Requirements Across Certifications
If you’ve got multiple compliance standards to meet, you’re probably wondering which control objectives are the same across different standards. For example, will this particular control point for PCI meet this other control point for HIPAA? Theoretically speaking, you should be able to provide the same evidence one time and map it to both audit requirements.
That can take a lot of redundant work if you’re doing it manually, but compliance tracking software can do it for you automatically. You’ll be able to take advantage of automation and knowledge of how certain documentation maps to multiple compliance standards.
3) Prompt Your People Automatically
Ever get tired of hunting down documents, nagging people throughout your organization for documents, and sending veiled threats to those people as you nag them for the umpteenth time that they need to give you those freaking documents? Yeah, we get it.
Tracking compliance is like herding cats. It’s a waste of your valuable time, and a huge pain in the butt. That’s why our customers don’t do it.
If you’re using the right software tool for tracking compliance, you can prompt people automatically. For example, the TCT Portal sends daily weekday morning reminders to everyone on your team that tells them every item that they have outstanding.
Once you’ve been through your first audit, daily, weekly and monthly tasks for the next year’s audit are divided up into quarterly check-ins. Reminders start two weeks before end of quarter. This helps your team stay on track and avoid surprises at the end of the year. Your company feels better because you now have a firm grasp on exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, and your auditor will feel better because they have empirical evidence your organization is taking your responsibilities seriously.
Want to keep your eye on a specific requirement? No problem. With the TCT Portal you can receive automated notifications within an hour if something happens.
4) One Submission Method
How many different ways are people sending you their documents? Three? Four? More? Chances are, you’re getting submissions through cloud storage, network drives, emails, voicemails, meeting minutes, shared Google docs and hand-delivered hard copies (to name a few). People drop things on your desk when you’re not there, hand them to you while you’re distracted and attach them to long email chains with unrelated subject lines.
What happens when you receive evidence through so many channels? Besides driving you nuts, it also puts you at risk of missing or losing important documents. Plus, it simply creates more work for you as you hunt down all those documents and transfer them into the proper format, then store them in a central location you have to organize yourself—assuming you have the time for that luxury. Most compliance officers try to stay on top of it all by recording submitted evidence in spreadsheets, but let’s be honest—spreadsheets suck at tracking compliance.
What you need is a single submission method that’s easy for everyone. The TCT Portal makes it simple for anyone in your organization to submit any kind of document into a central location. Better yet, the submitted evidence is already tied to a particular requirement or set of requirements—so you don’t have to figure out which requirement the evidence was intended for. It’s easy for them, and it dramatically streamlines the work for you.
5) Store Everything in One Place
If you’re not constantly keeping on top of your file storage, your documents will end up in weird places. For some reason, there’s always a few people who go rogue and create their own folders on the network or drop a document in the wrong spot by accident. That means you’re hunting down documents people swear they’ve submitted, and you never really know for sure what your status is.
Everyone has the vision of completing their compliance cycle like crossing the finish line in Chariots of Fire, but it’s more like skidding across the finish line on the side of your face with legs bent over your head. Evidence is everywhere, the remaining push of documents is a blind flurry of sending evidence to the auditor through a series of multiple phone calls per day over several days. Meanwhile, your boss is breathing down your neck about the status, or Sales is pressuring the compliance team for the confirmation letter because a huge client is waiting for the all-clear letter from the auditor.
As soon as the compliance engagement ends, the state of the tracking is almost never updated or cleaned up—leaving a mostly broken state of compliance, only to be revisited the following year when you have to hit the Reset button.
When everyone submits their documents through the TCT Portal, you’ve got everything stored in one place. Not only that, but it’s also mapped to the right requirement. Just go to your Dashboard, and all your evidence is located where it needs to be. It’s easy to find, and you know exactly what you have—and what you still need.
Starting into your next compliance cycle, you’ve got a head start. You’ve got tracking on who did what, who loaded what, when they did it and what evidence was accepted by the auditor last time. You also have a roadmap that lets you streamline the amount of investment this time around. Year over year, you’ll spend less and less time in your operational compliance than you did in the now-distant spreadsheet-based “eye of the hurricane.”
Automate Your Compliance Tracking
You can make your audits easier, if you take the right actions to automate and simplify the process. The right auditing software tool can make all the difference, too. Ready to streamline your audits and quit all the agonizing and wasted manual labor? TCT Portal can help make your audits painless.