The burdens of compliance are heavy. How heavy, exactly? According to one 2020 study, compliance costs consume 40 percent of IT security budgets – but ignoring compliance is decidedly not an option, since that path can result in revenue losses, hefty fines, business disruptions, and reputational damage.

One way for organizations to keep pace with compliance challenges in a cost-effective manner is through compliance automation: investing in the right technology to streamline workflows, monitor controls, and identify “non-compliant events” in a more timely manner.

Read on to learn more about the other benefits of automation.

What Is Compliance Automation?

Compliance automation refers to the use of software automation tools to eliminate many manual compliance-related tasks, such as self-assessments, spot checks, security controls testing, and the implementation of compliance policies. With these automation tools in place, there’s no need for complicated spreadsheets or multiple emails to run the compliance program.

Instead, tools based on artificial intelligence (AI) or robotic process automation (RPA) automatically check enterprise systems for compliance. They review applicable security policies and raise alerts when they detect violations. These notifications allow stakeholders to take appropriate and quick action to prevent non-compliance.

Learn more about compliance considerations for RPA.

Importance of Compliance Automation

So, why automation?

Compliance automation is particularly useful for organizations that collect, process, or store sensitive information (such as customers’ personal data) and must adhere to specific rules about how that data is protected.

For these organizations, it’s hard to maintain a strong compliance posture in the face of changing data security and data privacy laws. Manual processes, human inputs, and spreadsheets make it difficult to track all those rules, and even harder to comply with them.

Automating compliance reduces this burden for compliance and security teams. With automated workflows and continuous monitoring, it’s easier to achieve and maintain compliance.

Automated tools provide a centralized console and real-time information that allow compliance personnel to implement appropriate internal controls, make better decisions about risk and compliance management, and maintain the organization’s compliance posture.

Other benefits of compliance automation include:

  • Lower compliance costs and shorter timelines
  • Fewer human errors that may result in non-compliance
  • Compliance policies can be implemented uniformly across the enterprise
  • Easier management of third-party risks
  • Automated remediation to maintain continuous compliance

The tool will continually monitor enterprise systems for vulnerabilities and non-compliance, so that staff can catch far more issues than if they were to do it all manually; automation reduces the risks of non-compliance. Consequently, compliance automation lowers the likelihood of costly fines or litigation (because you have fewer compliance incidents to report) and protects the organization’s reputation and market standing.

Checklist to Choose the Best Compliance Automation Tool

Here’s a compliance checklist to help you choose the right automation solution for your compliance needs:

  1. Collect evidence continuously

    The tool must automatically collect data and organize it based on the applicable compliance standard. When evidence is collected continuously and automatically, that allows the organization to stay updated on regulatory changes and maintain its compliance posture.

  2. Cover all relevant standards

    The tool must cover all applicable privacy and security standards – HIPAA, SOC 2, PCI DSS, GDPR, and so forth – and streamline processes to maintain compliance with those standards. It must also include built-in integrations for your existing tech stack.

  3. Provide a guided setup

    A guided setup makes it easier to complete all the required checks and stay updated on evolving rules. It is especially valuable for companies pursuing compliance for the first time, or for mature companies tackling a new standard or regulation.

  4. Simplify communications and collaboration

    The platform should allow auditors to review all evidence from one centralized location and simplify the audit process. The audit team should also be able to compare the organization’s compliance score versus a benchmark.

  5. Perform gap analysis

    Teams should get a holistic view of compliance status to help them prepare for compliance audits. The tool should also perform gap analyses and display the results as a to-do list so the team knows what’s required to achieve and maintain compliance.

Reciprocity ZenComply: A Smarter Path to Compliance Automation

Automation can bring immense benefits for your organization compared to manual processes and old-fashioned spreadsheets. A tool like Reciprocity ZenComply can reduce the risk of non-compliance and lower the cost of your compliance program. It can even transform compliance from a business barrier to a business enabler.

The ZenComply platform provides a unified view of risk and compliance so you have the information you need to prioritize activities and make smart compliance and risk management decisions.

To know how ZenComply’s automated workflows, prescriptive guidance, and built-in content can add value to your compliance program, ask us for a free demo.