Workflow Automation for Compliance Programs
In a world where efficiency is king, it comes as no surprise that the practice of workflow automation is as popular as it is. Every process has some form of workflow to go through, and these often include several manual tasks, which increase risk exposure due to their inherently error-prone nature. Workflow automation addresses this lack, working on a company-wide scale. For instance, as per data published by the Annuitas Group, marketing and process automation drew in a 417 % increase in revenue.
Considering the burdensome nature of the compliance process, it is clear that operating without automation is a risk, to begin with. But does automation scale as effectively when optimizing the compliance workflow? As a matter of fact, it does, and very elegantly too. Workflow automation for compliance works primary because it streamlines the flow of crucial information and key compliance responsibilities. With traditional compliance workflows, there is a lot of manual effort and input required from the compliance officer. Compliance oversight and coordination can also be challenging in such a system, but such complexities can be reduced with automation.
Another good example is the ability to adapt to new compliance norms. In a fast-paced, ever-changing market space, regulatory reforms can be an administrative nightmare for compliance officers. However, with the right tools, adapting to these new rules doesn't require a complete and expensive controls' overhaul. This is just one among the many benefits, and for more insight on this subject, read on.
Compliance problem areas solved by workflow automation
Compliance officers have their work cut out for them no matter the industry the organization operates within. This is especially true for companies without any form of automation in place as this means that workflow processes are still reliant on manual input. Human error is among the primary risk factors to account for when dealing with any form of manual work.
This exposure only widens with complexity as employees start to seek workarounds and shortcuts in an attempt to provide quick solutions. As a result, this exposes the organization to some form of a regulatory violation. Workflow automation helps mitigate this risk as employees can only operate within set parameters, and these are designed to comply with internal policies. However, complex manual processes are just one among the many compliance breakpoints. Here are other common compliance problems areas that workflow automation can help optimize against.
Even though employees understand the importance of compliance responsibilities, they can forget or lose track of when and what needs to be done. So, it important that responsibilities need to entrusted to various stakeholders and provide a due date for completion. For example, an IT manager needs to submit a cybersecurity report. Compliance workflow automation makes creating, assigning, and monitoring compliance responsibilities easier. An automated tool can send reminders to stakeholders who are supposed to complete a responsibility. Automation can drastically improve compliance oversight, coordination, and collaboration.
Insecure document distribution
A systemic problem plaguing many organizations is that information, often vital, is transmitted through less than secure channels such as email. Companies could face severe consequences if a document is seen by people who aren't authorized to view it. An efficient way to minimize exposure to this vulnerability would be to take control of document distribution with the help of automation. The company creates workflows with customized roles and employs automated document routing for maximum safety. Another solution is to have a workflow form that requests sensitive data and once uploaded, this data is automatically transferred to a unified document management program, such as SharePoint, and grants access only to those authorized.
Unique industry-specific regulatory norms
Compliance norms vary based on the industry and there may be some especially strict rules to follow. This is a problem because not all tools are equipped for these unique requirements. Some software may not support necessary compliance frameworks, which can spell trouble since it might manual controls. Automation helps this by enabling the design of flexible workflows to ensure that any complex processes required by regulation aren't sidelined.
Inadequate tracking of documents and data transfers
Businesses have to manage and transmit large volumes of data via documents on a daily basis. Generally, organizations use some form of database or a cloud service to store and interact with this data. Unfortunately, this can cause inconvenience as many such technologies don't allow you to track these documents' movement.
Another issue is tracking down the data shared within these systems for the purposes of removal. This is a near impossible task as information is shared across various platforms. A solution helps automate the otherwise tedious process of creating the audit log or trail.
In any company, there is always some form of the hierarchy followed regarding how information flows. For instance, employees may be required to get certification or approval from specific executive staff and chasing these approvals can be quite tedious. This is especially relevant to larger organizations where a request may get lost in the email inbox or may get delayed for some other reason.
In such cases, it is quite common for employees to either skip this crucial step of approval or for administrators to issue quick approvals just to maintain pace. Any such occurrences are major compliance vulnerabilities that shouldn't exist and workflow automation can safeguard against them. These tools can be designed to ensure that information gets automatically routed to the designated recipient and follow-up alerts get issued in a timely manner.
Ways to leverage automation to drive compliance
Considering the consequences that come with being noncompliant, there are several reliable and ingenious ways to leverage workflow automation for compliance. Take a look at the options that all companies have at their disposal.
A robust compliance management or a GRC management tool can help companies automate compliance processes' overall management. Since no two companies are the same, internal policies and controls will vary and these tools can be used to design the automated workflows as needed. Some of the best ways to use this tool are to:
- Assign clear compliance responsibilities to employees based on the department they operate within.
- Delegate tasks to responsible team members and use a workflow automation tool to monitor progress.
- Store documents and ensure that document retention stays flawless for when auditors come knocking. Workflow automation minimizes the chances of human error and can also help simplify search during audits.
Succeeding at workflow automation for compliance does rely on software being used. Not only should it have the certification, but it should also be equipped to operate within the applicable compliance framework. The VComply GRC software suite meets all these requirements and goes further to offer integrated risk assessment and management programs. Armed with this tool, you can empower your compliance teams to work optimally and prioritize compliance as they should. For more information, contact us online.
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VComply Editorial Team