You’ve been through the agonizing compliance audit season before, and this year’s assessment is coming your way, fast. You’ve made a couple of tweaks to your internal processes, and you’re communicating with people earlier this year—but it’s still not going to be an easy auditing process. It’ll be messy, and it’s going to be painful to collect evidence from everyone.
In a lot of ways, it feels like you’re starting from Square One all over again.
There’s got to be a way to make compliance audits easier—some method or tool to make assessments more efficient and simpler. Good news: you’re right! There is a better way. With the right compliance management tool, you can make the auditing process dramatically simpler and less painful. Here are five things you can do to make compliance audits easier.
How Automation Makes Compliance Audits Easier
1) Know Your Status in Real Time
You need 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. If you’re using manual methods to track compliance, you’re probably spending at least a couple hours every week preparing for two-hour status calls. That’s ten percent of your week, simply figuring out the status of your compliance efforts. And that’s only accounting for the wasted time of the poor soul who’s acting as the human glue holding your compliance process together!
With the right system, automated compliance management software tells you the status of your compliance engagement at any moment. A live dashboard is updated in real time. You can see a live view of the state of your efforts by requirement or by team member. You can eliminate the onerous prep work, and long status meetings.
2) Map Your Requirements Across Certifications
If you have multiple standards to comply with, you probably have several requirements that apply to more than one standard. For example, if you’re compliant with PCI firewall requirements, you’ll support your HIPAA requirements as well.
Depending on the standards you’re complying with, you could have dozens of overlapping requirements. If you’re relying on manual auditing processes, that’s a lot of effort that you’re duplicating between standards.
Compliance tracking software can take that effort off of your plate by duplicating your efforts automatically. You’ll be able to take advantage of automation that knows how every document maps to multiple compliance standards.
Supply evidence once, and apply it many times.
3) Prompt Your People Automatically
Ever get tired of hunting down documents, nagging people for evidence, and sending veiled threats to coworkers to get those documents? Gathering evidence is a lot like herding cats. It’s a waste of your valuable time, and a huge pain in the butt.
If you’re using the right automated compliance tool, you can prompt people without lifting a finger. Automated reminders can go out every weekday morning to each person on your team, with a count of items that they have outstanding.
Once you’ve been through your first audit, periodic reminders go out to prompt your people to keep up their compliance responsibilities throughout the year. This helps your team stay on track and avoid nasty surprises at your next audit.
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4) Organize Your Evidence Submissions
How many different ways are people sending you their documents? Chances are, you’re getting submissions through cloud storage, network drives, emails, voicemails, text messages, meeting minutes, shared Google docs, and hand-delivered hard copies — to name just 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 losing important documents. Plus, it simply creates more work for you as you hunt down all that evidence and store them in a central location you have to manually organize yourself.
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 if you had a single submission method that’s easy for everyone — and automatically organized every piece of evidence for you?
When everyone submits their documents through TCT Portal compliance software, everything is 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. You don’t have to touch a single file.
Better yet, the submitted evidence is automatically 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 your team, and it dramatically streamlines the work for you.
5) Get a Jump Start on the Next Compliance Audit
Everyone has a vision of completing their compliance cycle like they’re crossing the finish line in Chariots of Fire. It’s more like skidding across the finish line on your face with your legs dangling awkwardly over your head. Evidence is everywhere, and you’re in a blind flurry of sending evidence to the auditor. Meanwhile, your boss is breathing down your neck about the status, or Sales is pressuring you because a huge client is waiting for the all-clear letter from the auditor.
As soon as the compliance engagement ends, the tracking spreadsheet is immediately abandoned—leaving a mostly broken state of compliance, only to be revisited the following year when you have to hit the Reset button. The artifacts from last year are useless, and you’re starting at Square One all over again.
With TCT Portal, you’ve already got a head start on your next compliance cycle. Not only is all of your evidence neatly organized — everything you did this year is tracked in the system. You can look back and see who did what, who loaded what, when they did it, and what evidence was accepted by the auditor. This is especially helpful when personnel have turned over since last cycle.
You also have a roadmap that lets you streamline your activities even more the second time around. Year over year, you’ll spend less and less time on compliance efforts than you did when you were manually wrestling with the chaos of compliance.
Automate Your Compliance Tracking
You really can make compliance audits easier, if you take the right actions to automate and simplify the process. The right compliance management 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.