Regulatory compliance can be an enormous burden for complex or highly regulated businesses. Perhaps the best way to alleviate that burden is to embrace compliance automation.

Compliance automation revolutionizes how companies fulfill their regulatory requirements by leveraging technology (particularly artificial intelligence) to streamline previously manual tasks. Automation assures timely adherence to regulations and simplifies complex compliance workflows such as risk assessments and corrective actions. By integrating a company’s specific security and compliance protocols into sophisticated software, it efficiently identifies and addresses any non-compliance issues, enhancing overall business operations and regulatory conformity.

In this blog we will cover everything you need to know about compliance automation and how to find the compliance automation software right for your business’s compliance needs.

What Is Compliance Automation Software?

By automating the time-consuming manual procedures generally involved in compliance management, compliance automation software keeps track of a company’s internal systems and controls to verify conformity with the necessary standards and industry regulations.

Many compliance management software solutions allow continuous monitoring, simplify evidence collection across multiple frameworks, track compliance training, and provide user-friendly integrations with other common tools to drive adoption within the organization.

The best compliance software offers built-in content for common regulatory standards, such as HIPAA, the European Union’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), and NIST (National Institute for Standards and Technology). These software tools drive notifications to compliance personnel when standards change or when compliance gaps emerge.

Compliance management software simplifies the sometimes tricky process of establishing and maintaining compliance considerations with necessary standards and laws. In addition, tools with built-in continuous monitoring and alerting can help an organization’s overall security posture.

Benefits of Using Compliance Automation Software

Business process automation is the secret to achieving your organization’s goals most effectively and with the least amount of monitoring.

Many of your manual operations, such as routing policies and procedures for approval, prioritizing corrective actions, and collecting data from operational reports, take up valuable time and can result in human error. Your overall organizational productivity will undoubtedly suffer as a result, all while your competitors are continuously innovating to work more quickly.

Some of the specific benefits of automation include:

  • Operations that are more cost-effective than manual workflows
  • The availability of compliance status and risk stance from a central dashboard
  • Improved risk management decision-making with real-time data
  • Continuous verification of compliance requirements, management of third-party risks, and identification of potential vulnerabilities
  • Lower chance of security breaches
  • Fewer reporting mistakes
  • Improved accuracy and compliance reporting

What Does Compliance Automation Enable?

Compliance automation tools not only enable organizations to maintain regulatory compliance and avert financial repercussions. Automation also significantly enhances efficiency. By eliminating the need for time-consuming manual processes, these tools free up compliance teams to concentrate on more complex tasks, such as developing new policies and strategies. 

This shift from mundane tasks to high-level planning and analysis not only improves productivity, but also allows for a more active and strategic approach to compliance, assuring that organizations are always ahead of regulatory changes and industry standards.

How Do You Automate a Compliance Process?

Automating a compliance process, particularly through workflow automation, involves programming software to execute tasks based on predefined rules, minimizing the need for human intervention. This streamlines business operations and assures that tasks such as renewals and tracking are handled automatically, with alerts set based on specific criteria.

Advanced automated tools serve as a centralized repository for all compliance data, so that decisions are made based on accurate and current information. Ultimately, automation offers a comprehensive approach to managing industry regulations, policy management, and contractual obligations, providing peace of mind and a consolidated view of compliance activities.

One typical way to automate a compliance process is workflow automation for compliance. This allows you to program software to follow rules-based instructions to perform an entire task without human intervention.

Automation streamlines business processes. For example, rather than updating tasks manually (say, sending required training to certain employee groups), the software can automatically renew and track outstanding items. It only alerts you based on your pre-set rules (the employees still haven’t completed the training).

The most advanced compliance management tools — those specially designed to replace spreadsheets — evolve into a single source of truth for your compliance program and your organization. In addition, those tools can be a repository for all your compliance data, so you don’t make decisions based on incomplete, outdated, or erroneous information.

Why automation? Because it can provide peace of mind by tracking all compliance issues and activities in one place. Industry regulations, policy management, standards, contracts, and clauses that may have once resided within web browser bookmarks, word documents, and spreadsheets can all be consolidated into a single, secure, trusted database.

Keys to Create a Compliance Automation Checklist

A compliance automation checklist involves several steps to assure that your organization meets regulatory requirements efficiently and effectively. Here’s a structured approach.

  1. Identify regulations and standards. Determine the specific regulations and standards applicable to your organization. This could include industry-specific regulations, data protection laws, financial reporting standards, or any other relevant requirements.
  2. Assess current compliance status. Evaluate your current compliance status against each requirement. Identify areas where your organization already complies and areas where it falls short.
  3. Define compliance objectives. Clearly state what you must achieve to be compliant with each requirement. This might include implementing certain policies, achieving specific security standards, or maintaining certain records.
  4. Select automation tools. Choose the right tools to automate your compliance processes. This could include software for monitoring, reporting, data protection, and workflow management. Be sure the tools are customizable to your specific needs.
  5. Map out processes. For each compliance objective, map out the process needed to achieve it. Define each step and how it will be automated. Include data collection, analysis, reporting, and remediation activities.
  6. Assign roles and responsibilities. Determine who will be responsible for each part of the compliance process. This includes who will monitor compliance, who will handle exceptions, and who will be responsible for maintaining and updating the automation tools.
  7. Develop compliance policies and procedures. Document the policies and procedures that staff should follow to maintain compliance. This should include guidelines on how to use the automation tools and how to respond to compliance issues.
  8. Implement and integrate automation tools. Deploy the selected automation tools and integrate them into your existing systems and workflows. Verify that they are configured to capture the necessary data and generate the required reports.
  9. Train employees. Train your staff on the new processes and tools. Be sure that they understand their roles in maintaining compliance and how to use the automation tools effectively.
  10. Monitor and review. Continuously monitor the automated processes to confirm that they are functioning correctly and effectively. Review the system regularly to identify any areas for improvement and to confirm that it remains up-to-date with any changes in regulations.
  11. Maintain documentation. Keep detailed records of all compliance activities, including processes, responsibilities, and any incidents or breaches. This documentation will be crucial for demonstrating compliance to regulators.
  12. Stay informed and adapt. Regulations change and new technologies emerge. Stay informed about changes in your regulatory environment and be ready to adapt your automation tools and processes accordingly.

By following this framework, you can create a comprehensive and effective compliance automation checklist that helps your organization to meet its regulatory requirements efficiently and reliably.

Choosing the right compliance automation solution for your organization

Choosing the right compliance automation solution is crucial for effectively managing regulatory requirements and minimizing risk. Here’s how you can approach the selection process.

Understand Your Compliance Needs

Identify the specific regulations and standards applicable to your industry and operations. Determine your current compliance status and identify areas needing improvement.

Define Your Requirements

Determine the range of compliance activities you need to manage (that is, the scope), from data protection to financial reporting. Consider how an automation solution will need to integrate with your existing systems and processes, and grow with your business in the future. 

Research and Shortlist Vendors

Look for solutions that are well-reviewed and recommended within your industry. Consider the vendor’s reputation, longevity, and support capabilities.

Evaluate Features and Capabilities

Be sure the solution has features that automate routine tasks, such as data collection and reporting. The solution should be customizable to your specific compliance needs, and have a user-friendly interface to facilitate easier adoption by your team. Robust reporting capabilities are crucial for monitoring and demonstrating compliance. Finally, confirm that the solution has strong security measures to protect sensitive data.

Consider the Total Cost of Ownership

Understand how the pricing of your preferred solution works, whether it’s a subscription or a one-time purchase, and what’s included. Consider the cost and effort involved in implementing the solution, as well as the costs and levels of ongoing support and maintenance offered.

Request Demonstrations and Trials

Always request demos to see how the solution works and how it can be applied to your specific needs. If possible, use trial periods to test the solution in your environment.

Check References and Reviews

Look for reviews and testimonials from customers, particularly those in similar industries or with similar compliance needs. Review case studies to understand how the solution has benefitted other organizations.

Evaluate the Implementation and Support Systems

Understand how the vendor will support you during the implementation phase. Confirm that the vendor provides adequate training for your team, and evaluate the levels and availability of ongoing customer support once the installation is done.

Assess Compliance With Your Requirements.

Create a checklist of your specific requirements and assess how well each solution meets these needs.

Make a Decision.

Weigh the pros and cons of each solution against your requirements and constraints; consider everything from cost to features to customer service, and more. Involve key stakeholders in the decision-making process so that the chosen solution meets everyone’s needs.

Plan for the Future.

Confirm that the solution will continue to evolve with changing regulations and technology. Plan for a feedback mechanism to assess the effectiveness of the solution at regular intervals, and then make adjustments as needed.

By taking a methodical approach to evaluating compliance automation solutions, you can select a system that not only meets your current needs but also adapts to future changes in regulations and business growth.

ZenGRC Helps Businesses to Automate Compliance Processes

ZenGRC is a comprehensive software solution designed to help businesses streamline and automate their compliance processes, transforming what is often a complex and manual task into a more manageable and efficient function. 

By integrating ZenGRC into their operations, businesses can easily navigate the landscape of regulatory requirements, so that they remain compliant with various industry standards and laws. The platform’s user-friendly interface simplifies the tracking, managing, and reporting of compliance activities, making it easier for organizations to maintain a clear view of their compliance status and reduce the risk of non-compliance.

Moreover, ZenGRC offers a wide range of tools and features that facilitate continuous monitoring and real-time reporting, enabling businesses to stay ahead of potential compliance issues. Its customizable framework allows for the seamless integration with existing systems, assuring that organizations can adapt the platform to their unique needs without disrupting their current processes. 

With ZenGRC, businesses can enhance their compliance efforts and gain the agility to respond swiftly to regulatory changes, all while maintaining a robust compliance posture.

Schedule a demo to see what ZenGRC can do for you!