What keeps compliance professionals up at night? Is it stressful stakeholder meetings, keeping abreast of the latest changes in the world of compliance regulation, reporting bad news to the stakeholders within their organizations? Those are all certainly angst-inspiring.
Another nagging worry for many: that despite your best efforts, you’ll misreport an issue, or not report it completely or accurately.
That nightmare would unfold something like this: a week after you brief the board on a certain business process, new data emerges contradicting your previous conclusions. Or, perhaps worse, overlooked data resurfaces from someone’s email box or some department’s shared drive — data you should have included in your analysis, but didn’t.
The reality is that the challenges of compliance management require you to distill lots of details into meaningful conclusions for auditors to understand — accurately, completely, and on a deadline. Let’s take a look at this a little further.
What Is Compliance Reporting?
Compliance reporting is the practice of gathering, analyzing, and then presenting the information and data about an organization’s systems to show whether those systems are compliant with relevant industry standards or government regulations.
The key performance indicators (KPIs) assessed by a compliance officer go beyond assigning a passing or failing grade on the compliance report or data security business processes. Those KPIs should include things like tracking the number of systems with access to cardholder data and how information customer data is collected, stored, transmitted, and deleted. The report about those KPIs should include detailed accounts of the data protection controls in place and any remediation steps taken after previous compliance audits.
How Does the Compliance Reporting System Work?
The compliance process will look different depending on the particular framework your organization is required to report on.
Typically, your compliance officer or risk management team will work with any appropriate parties to collect evidence and documentation that the organization is meeting its requirements. This could include meeting with the IT team to collect data on cybersecurity requirements, or the accounting if the audit addresses financial compliance.
Once sufficient evidence and documentation are gathered and any necessary action to implement controls or remediate issues has been completed, the organization will submit itself for an audit by the appropriate regulatory agency.
An alphabet soup of laws and regulations require this, including HIPAA, GDPR, PCI DSS, SOX, and FISMA.
In essence, you’re expected to have a mile-deep understanding of each area of the company and have mile-wide coverage at the same time; or risk non-compliance penalties and repercussions imposed by regulators.
Smaller organizations might be able to manage this process manually in the beginning, but as the organization grows, that approach will quickly unravel. With compliance automation systems, you can automate the tracking of projects and results, giving you the peace of mind that comes with the proper organization of compliance requirements.
What Is Automated Compliance?
Automated compliance solutions help to scale a compliance program by replacing those manual spreadsheets with a single source of truth — a system of record — for your compliance group and your organization.
These solutions can track all compliance activity in one place: regulations, policies, standards, contracts, and clauses that may have once resided within web browser bookmarks, Word documents, or (worse) in some binder.
Streamlining regulatory compliance with workflow automation is really important when you try to tie together all the loose ends and report on your results. A person simply can’t manage so many details with desktop software tools. There comes a time when you must grow into a solution designed to support compliance and all its intricacies.
What Are the Benefits of Automated Compliance Reporting?
Automated compliance reporting brings benefits. Among them:
- Alleviating the burden of preparing for auditing;
- Streamlining data analytics and data collections procedures;
- More timely compliance reporting, which reduces compliance risk;
- Lower risk of human error;
- Less cost over the long term compared to legacy tools and systems.
In addition to the efficiencies and real-time responses that come with automation, automated compliance solutions also help you comprehend the data — all the data — collected during the interviews, testing, and meetings of your project.
There’s also a level of assurance that comes when you’re able to connect and compare the data delivered from your compliance efforts with relevant information gathered by other functions in your enterprise such as Internal Controls or Internal Audit.
ZenGRC is the Ideal Compliance Automation Tool
Not only does an automated compliance solution such as ZenGRC bring data faster. It can arm you with more and better data, in the form of meaningful and insightful key performance indicators.
ZenGRC can provide information when, where, and how you want it.
So when the CFO calls you from the conference room to ask you a question that’s just been raised in his meeting, you’ll have a single source of truth that can quickly provide the answers instead of rifling through your inbox, spreadsheets, or a file folder full of reports.
When you’re fielding questions as you wrap up your PCI compliance reporting, for example, you can use ZenGRC to view the latest testing and reporting around firewall configurations, cardholder data storage security, and physical access data controls.
You’ll also be able to access related internal audit findings, so you can invest your time developing that mile-deep understanding of the data needed to compose your questionnaires and attestations. That is a far better use of time than sifting through the noise of conversations, notes, emails, and Excel spreadsheets.
You can develop many procedures, habits, and tools on your own to track your compliance procedures and results, but wouldn’t you rather put that time into managing your team, and improving your procedures and security standards?
With compliance and process automation provided by ZenGRC, you can do just that. That’s better than worrying throughout and after the reporting process that you’ll be subject to bad publicity or worse, for an issue that better organization of your data may have resolved or, at least, identified.
If you’re ready to experience ‘zen’ in your compliance monitoring and reporting, let us know and we’ll schedule a free demo for you.