Ask leading executives from across industries to rank their top business concerns and chances are most of them will include compliance somewhere high on their list. If your company operates in the healthcare market, it’s likely you’re concerned about changes to the Affordable Care Act. Or if you’re a business with customers from the European Union, no doubt you’ve been wrestling with the new standards of the GDPR.
The fact of the matter is that businesses worldwide face an ever-growing and increasingly complex regulatory environment. And the penalties for noncompliance are rising just as rapidly, making it more crucial than ever to have an effective and efficient way of dealing with the challenge of compliance management. Automated compliance tracking systems can ease the burden of compliance management while helping your company reduce risk and save resources.
Compliance management has never been easy. In the past, it often involved poring over sprawling spreadsheets and riffling through reams of paperwork. Someone, usually an employee with other pressing tasks at hand, had to check on the status of new regulations or find out the details of existing regulation, then parse through those documents to determine whether these standards warranted a change in company policy or process. It was a costly and time-consuming chore, and one rife with innocent human error.
Tracking software systems streamline the entire process. Software applications allow users to create tasks, monitor results and audit all compliance initiatives. Further, they serve as a central repository for acts, rules, forms and other allied documents, keeping compliance management simple and efficient.
How Automated Compliance Systems Work
Many vendors offer automated compliance tracking solutions. Exact details will vary with each one, and some are more customized to specific industries than others, but in general, they tend to perform similar tasks for the user. The two main purposes of compliance management software are to control the flow of quality information and to effectively manage compliance documentation.
Any quality compliance software system must be able to meet local and global regulatory compliance requirements. In addition, they should allow users to:
- Electronically manage quality activities
- Handle process-based inspections and audits
- Maintain status information concerning suppliers/vendors/third parties
- Support qualified personnel with expanding review responsibilities
- Perform batch releases
- Issue QA statements and audit certificates
A quality compliance system makes it possible for companies to develop detailed inspection plans that are custom-suited to their organization and its regulatory requirements. These can then be shared as necessary with any authorized parties. In addition, compliance software systems should offer some level of flexibility in their programming and should include adjustable alert systems to remind users of planned, current and outstanding compliance deadlines.
Such alerts help avoid any penalties associated with noncompliance by giving the proper teams within your organization enough time to proactively meet the compliance request. Some systems also include functions that evaluate your organization via a scoring system, which allows auditors to assign ratings based on assessments of the criticality, frequency and impact of each finding.
Ancillary Benefits of Automated Compliance Software
Keeping your organization out of regulatory quagmires may seem like a big enough task for any system to handle. But in doing so, automated compliance software systems provide additional values to you and your company. Here’s how:
Heightened Risk Management
Compliance software can strengthen your ability to assess and manage risk. Since the software tracks changes in regulatory requirements, your team will know of potentially risky situations before they become real problems. This heightened awareness translates into more information, allowing companies to assess the impact of procedural changes and to identify penalties and fines for non-compliance.
Creation of Audit Trails
Audit trails allow users to focus on specific tasks, communications or procedures your organization takes part in every day. Whatever industry your company partakes in, the need for clear documentation of sequenced events remains constant. Compliance tracking software can create customizable workflows that standardize these sequences and make them verifiable to auditors. The onerous paper trails of yesterday are replaced by digital records that can be easily viewed by team members and oversight operators, making collaboration easier and improving accountability.
All successful businesses try to capitalize on opportunities to save money. Integrating automated compliance software into companies can increase business productivity and allow your workforce to spend their time and energy on forwarding your success. Without the costly errors inherent in manual processing, your company can remain on the right side of compliance regulations, avoiding fees and penalties.
If you feel you’re ready to make the switch to automated compliance software, there are important factors to think about before signing a contract with any vendor.
Once you’ve narrowed down potential providers, request a scenario-based demonstration from each one. Each of these demonstrations should involve at least three functions of the software system that you foresee using the most. Have each vendor show you how their product would best handle these situations so you can create a basis for comparison.
Questions to Ask to Evaluate Automated Compliance Software
Once you’re satisfied with each vendor’s demonstration, be sure to follow up with these questions:
- What is the cost for on-premise installation? Will you need to buy additional hardware or software to take advantage of the compliance management capabilities?
- What options are available for cloud-based storage? Will cloud-based storage incur additional costs?
- What are the licensing specifications for this product? Some vendors offer per-seat licensing, while others deal in group licenses only. Product use licensing can range from unlimited testing and training to a small number of dedicated or named licenses. Be certain to specify how many employees you expect to use this service and make sure you have the appropriate licenses to accommodate each one.
- What kind of maintenance fee does the vendor require and what does that cover? How does the company handle upgrades and updates? If necessary, would they be available for onsite technical assistance?
- What kind of training is offered? Training options will vary from vendor to vendor. Some offer onsite training; others only provide offsite training. There may be per-person or group fees associated with training sessions.
Automated compliance software can help you remain safely on the right side of regulatory requirements. To find out more about compliance software and compliance management solutions, contact a Blueprint representative.