Corporate compliance is not a new idea; for many years, organizations everywhere have had to comply with certain rules and standards, for all sorts of reasons. These rules may be defined internally by the company’s compliance team or by an external party such as a regulatory agency.
A reliable compliance function assures that the organization complies with both internal and external rules. It also prevents undesirable situations or practices within the company such as fraud, abuse, harassment, or discrimination that disrupt operations and damage the company’s reputation.
The internal program encapsulates robust policies and a code of conduct that clearly state what kind of behaviors are acceptable to the company. This knowledge allows employees to understand how they should behave and the consequences of not doing so. It also prepares them to recognize and report illegal, unethical, or non-compliant behaviors or activities to the appropriate parties.
Compliance with external regulations and laws is equally important for a company’s survival. External or regulatory compliance protects the organization from fines and lawsuits. It also allows the organization to build trust with stakeholders, such as employees, customers, regulators, third party vendors, and business partners.
Enforcing compliance increases operational and behavioral consistency. It also helps to prevent violations and reduces errors. Ultimately, it helps the organization to achieve its objectives and establish a strong competitive position.
That said, it’s not easy to achieve (and then maintain) compliance. Even a small deviation from compliance policies increases the risk of reputational damage and customer dissatisfaction.
Moreover, as the regulatory landscape evolves, it can be hard for organizations to understand where laws have changed and what they should do to keep up with new compliance obligations. An automated compliance system can effectively address all these challenges.
What Is Automated Compliance?
As stated earlier, compliance with both internal and external rules helps organizations to control behaviors, prevent undesirable circumstances, and achieve their business goals. Compliance is also essential to manage risk, protect business-critical assets from theft or compromise, and safeguard the company’s reputation and financial stability.
And all of this is easier to do with compliance management and compliance automation tools. Compliance automation is about replacing manual processes, spreadsheets, and email-based communication with automated workflows. The right compliance solutions eliminate time-consuming, resource-intensive manual processes to ease the organization’s path towards compliance.
Benefits of Automated Compliance
Compliance is not an optional exercise; businesses must do it. That said, the regulatory landscape evolves constantly, with old regulations updated and new regulations cropping up with increasing frequency. Companies are constantly updating their codes of conduct and best practices too, to assure appropriate behaviors and provide evidence of such behaviors to customers, regulators, and other stakeholders.
As rules emerge or change, companies struggle to keep up using manual processes and legacy tools. These older technologies make it difficult to keep up with these rules, and even harder to comply with them. This is where compliance automation enters the picture.
Keep Up with Evolving Regulations and Avoid the Consequences of Non-Compliance
Automated tools can note the arrival of new regulations and keep track of existing rules. Powered by technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, these tools automatically compare enterprise systems against relevant regulations to check for compliance.
The tools will raise alerts when they detect non-compliance violations. The organization can then take appropriate action to close gaps, achieve the desired compliance posture, and mitigate the risk of non-compliance.
Simplify the Compliance Lifecycle
Automation simplifies the entire compliance lifecycle with automated workflows and built-in rules. It eliminates repetitive, administrative compliance activities so the organization can effectively and reliably meet the demands of its expanding compliance landscape.
Reduces the Burden for Human Teams
Automated tools collect and categorize the data required to achieve compliance. They also collect and organize relevant documentation. These tasks tend to be huge demands on compliance staffers’ time, so automating them reduces your team’s workload considerably.
Streamline Compliance Efforts
Advanced compliance automation software provides a centralized console and a “single source of truth” about your organization’s overall compliance program. Consequently, compliance teams don’t have to spend a lot of time looking for information or switching between different systems for evidence collection, testing, communication, and so forth.
Instead, your team can quickly implement appropriate controls to achieve and maintain compliance and reduce compliance risks. They can also document these controls and map them to various standards or regulations to reveal gaps or inconsistencies and address them with appropriate actions.
Compliance Reporting to Communicate Compliance Posture
The tools can generate automated reports based on real-time data about compliance violations. These reports can be shared with appropriate stakeholders to support decision-making, respond to audit requests, or provide evidence of the organization’s compliance posture.
Other Benefits of Compliance Automation
Compliance automation also benefits organizations in all these ways:
- Eliminates human errors that could affect the organization’s compliance position
- Empowers compliance teams to implement uniform policies and standards across the organization
- Provides a holistic view of compliance to increase visibility into gaps or blind spots
- Increases accountability, eliminates blame games, and accelerates compliance
- Minimize effort duplication for data/evidence collection, documentation, and controls implementation
- Supports a more scalable compliance program
Compliance automation can also lower your overall compliance costs. Here’s how.
How Automated Compliance Reduces Compliance Costs
In a 2020 report, Coalfire stated that for many organizations growing compliance obligations consumed 40 percent of IT security budgets. In the coming years that burden will increase and eventually become unsustainable if firms continue to rely on manual compliance procedures.
One effective way to control compliance costs is to adopt innovative automation approaches. These approaches can simplify compliance processes, drive greater efficiency, and ultimately reduce the costs of compliance.
For example, tools based on robotic process automation (RPA), natural language processing (NLP), and optical character recognition (OCR) technologies automatically collect, sort, and understand regulatory changes, and map those changes to appropriate business areas. These capabilities save a lot of time for compliance analysts, which then reduces costs for the organization.
Likewise, AI-based tools can build automated reports after reviewing unstructured regulatory data and defining reporting requirements. Consequently, analysts don’t have to review regulations manually, interpret them, or write code to retrieve required data.
The Coalfire report also estimated that firms adopting automation can achieve savings of 40 to 50 percent in internal compliance resource requirements. Further, 62 percent of companies were able to reduce assessment costs, assessment timelines, and overall compliance impact with automated evidence collection.
The report also found that automation helps organizations to develop a robust internal monitoring infrastructure and dashboards, which in turn help to drive better security outcomes. These features also allow organizations to respond more quickly to changing compliance standards and frameworks.
For 66 percent of companies by Coalfire, continuous monitoring dashboards and automated tools and processes also improve the overall health of compliance programs. Furthermore, maintaining visibility into program status and health reduces maintenance effort and cost, and minimizes the risks of misconfigurations and other undesirable practices.
Some other ways automated tools can simplify compliance and reduce costs are:
- AI bots can create marketing collateral that’s compliant with regulatory requirements
- AI-based transaction monitoring systems minimize false-positive compliance notifications (that is, warning a compliance staffer that a transaction seems suspicious, when in fact it isn’t) and reduce review costs
- Automation speeds up document collection, database checks, and due diligence checks
- It allows teams to store and manage evidence centrally, to reduce audit preparation time and costs
Make Compliance Automation Work for You with Reciprocity ZenComply
Need a smarter and faster way to achieve compliance? Or a unified, real-time view of your compliance and risk management programs? How about a simpler compliance ecosystem with a single source of truth, centralized documentation, and seamless collaboration?
With ZenComply, you can get all this in one centralized, easy-to-use platform.
ZenComply is Reciprocity’s world-class compliance automation platform. It eliminates tedious manual processes so your team has more time and freedom to deliver valuable outcomes for your compliance program.
With ZenComply, you can become audit-ready in 30 minutes or less. You can also keep an eye on your program’s effectiveness and make quick decisions to maintain continuous compliance.
Get a demo to know more about ZenComply’s powerful features like automated workflows, expert-built content, real-time reporting, prescriptive guidance, and more.