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5 Ways to Fight Compliance Fatigue

By: Tim Roncevich

When you hear the term “compliance,” your first reaction may be to roll your eyes or shudder with dread. I don’t blame you. Creating a compliance checklist is one of the most monotonous and tedious tasks you could ever possibly imagine. Today’s business climate forces most industries to juggle a multitude of compliance initiatives throughout the year.

The result is an illness I like to call “compliance fatigue,” and it has turned into an epidemic for service organizations. The only cure is finding ways to stretch your budget and turn a laborious chore into a pleasant one. Let’s take a look at five ways to do just that.

1. Make It a Business Decision.

Fostering a positive attitude regarding compliance within your corporate culture makes all the difference. It’s a given that operating your business within the guidelines of industry-standard best practices and adhering to mandated compliance requirements is generally a good thing. Most agree that these practices ultimately lead to increased efficiencies, higher profits and improved security.

However, many are surprised to learn that clients will soon start demanding proof that you can produce a clean SSAE 16 or SOC 2 report before signing a major contract with your company. Instead of fighting compliance, try embracing it from the top down. After all, nearly every major business decision has a compliance or regulatory component to it. And when compliance becomes a point of positive conversation, becomes a major consideration in strategic planning and is an initiative that is favorably supported by upper management, everyone wins!

2. Plan Wisely With One CPA Firm.

Your grandmother always told you not to put all of your eggs in one basket, right? Well, that’s mostly true, except for when it comes to juggling multiple compliance initiatives with multiple service providers. Think ahead this budget season and select a single source to provide as many of your compliance reports as possible. Utilizing a qualified audit firm provides numerous economies of scale, and the tribal knowledge gained by utilizing the same firm for multiple audits almost always saves time and money.

3. Multiyear Contracts Save Money.

It’s also a good idea to enter into a multiyear contract with your audit provider. Let’s face it, compliance isn’t going away anytime soon. Instead of juggling multiple vendors this year, try fostering a long-term, multiyear relationship with a single audit provider. This will not only eliminate a fairly steep learning curve each year, but it will also help to maintain a more consistent audit fee.

As we have seen an increased need in the marketplace for organizations to prove to their clients that data is secure, the demand for competent auditors also increases. Unfortunately, this trend is likely to cause a dramatic spike in audit fees when it comes time to re-up your contract next year. Competency is in high demand right now. So do your CFO a huge favor this year and negotiate a multiyear contract for your compliance audit this budget season.

4. Manage Multiple Initiatives Within the Same Audit.

Did you know you can design controls to cover various compliance initiatives and map existing controls to various frameworks to satisfy multiple compliance goals? It’s true! In many cases, this will enable one control to cover multiple compliance initiatives.

How? Well, when you leverage common requirements across various standards, it also allows your company to consolidate service providers and enable the same audit team to test similar controls covering multiple compliance standards. Ultimately, your auditor is already familiar with the controls, which saves time and reduces compliance costs.

5. Document, Document, Document.

I think we can all agree that it has long been considered a best practice to document mission-critical security and IT procedures. The same is true when it comes to compliance management. It’s important to coach your various departments to immediately stop procrastinating, stop complaining and start documenting!

Before you start next year’s audit, you’ll want to avoid having a lack of documented policies and procedures — especially when it comes to information security documentation. After all, weak enforcement of procedural-based activities, such as opening formalized change request tickets, can mean major delays, and possible exceptions, come audit time.

Follow these simple tips to beat compliance fatigue once and for all!

As seen on P&A Magazine.