A good compliance reporting system is like the timing belt on a car. Most people don’t see it or think about it unless something goes very wrong. To extend the analogy further, when that something does go wrong, you will have to do a lot of additional repairs once you find out that there is something wrong. In the same way, it is then better to do preventative repair and evaluate whether it is necessary to replace the compliance reporting system. The similarities end here, however, because the right compliance reporting system will allow you to leverage the existing compliance function to cut negative costs associated with compliance, such as the time spent generating reports and filings, as well as avoiding potential fines.
Evaluating Compliance Reporting Systems
A company will develop an intricate technological persona over the course of its development. The technology department will piece together systems of software that best serve the unique needs of the workflow. A compliance reporting software will not always integrate seamlessly into every information technology interface of the company. This means that in order to select the correct compliance software, the current structure of the information technology flow must be a top consideration. The only way to buy into compliance is completely, and the process of buying in completely begins with choosing software that will best connect to the existing program.
2) Centralized Database
When regulatory and compliance filings are stored, they can often fit into many categories. External filings, internal filings, tax documents, annual reports, the list goes on. If you are looking for a specific grouping of documents that are grouped into separate repositories in the directory for filings, and these repositories do not communicate, you may have to execute multiple search actions in order to find them. This can quickly become tedious. This is not to say that the search function is the same thing as having a centralized database — far from it, the search function is the next layer of functionality within a database. That is why document search comes in at number three.
3) Document Search
As mentioned above, the document search function is critical to finding a compliance software that will mesh with the manner in which documents are named, tagged and filed. Document search should be able to categorize and retrieve data quickly and accurately, ranking the best results in a reliable, thoughtful manner so that the employee retrieving the documents has to spend as little time as possible tracking them down.
Not all compliance reporting systems are created equal, in that many are aimed at either capturing a broad audience across a variety of industries or capturing a narrow audience within a specific field. The first mistake to avoid is being sold on a platform that isn’t widely used in your industry because the salespeople do a good job of making it sound functional for any possible use. The best option is to use a compliance reporting function that is packaged in a software, focused on and packaged for your industry. The other option, although not as robust as the previous one, is finding a compliance reporting system that is used broadly across many industries. This tends to be a reliable move, since these will have a baseline of familiarity with your industry, even if it’s not the perfect depth.
One key detail in reports is their consistency. When the information is entered correctly, a report should be able to be formatted exactly as standards dictate. This requires a great degree of flexibility in how reports are compiled, which isn’t available on all platforms. The foundation of any good compliance reporting system will be its ability to cater to the regulatory needs of its clients, which will vary widely. Compliance reporting systems that offer a significant amount of customizability will also often have dedicated support professionals to tweak the system as necessary, especially in the early stages of a transition.
6) Automated Processes
Regulatory and compliance filings differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, not only in the types necessary but also in the frequency and dates for filing. As long as the requisite information has been input, these reports should be automatically generated in the correct format, as mentioned in the previous point. The automatically generated report is only optimally efficient if there is an opportunity to also automate the filing process to an extent. Federal and state filings that are automatically generated and have checkpoint reminders generated should immediately make a compliance reporting system more appealing, because these automations will save time checking deadlines and potential costs associated with late filing and fines.
One of the more subtle aspects of a compliance reporting system is its security. A reliable system should be able to prevent security breaches, but where the rubber truly meets the road is the system response for any breaches. How well does the system detect and respond to breaches? Are personnel available to deal with any potential breaches? The point here is that everyone will tout that they have good protection; that’s essentially a wash. It then becomes important to look for a system that has a specific vision of how to respond to any security breaches, or even better, one with a proven, demonstrable track record of how they have dealt with them in the past.
Finding the correct compliance reporting system is an intricate process. Without the right software in place, you are quickly in the unenviable position of having to either shop for a new software or attempt to revert to old-school paper audits. Tracking and collating all of the documents necessary for keeping even one entity in compliance can get out of hand incredibly quickly. Finding the right system or software for your various reporting and document needs is a must.
Technology Facilitates Compliance Reporting
Blueprint OneWorld can offer you a powerful, customizable suite of tools to optimize the output of the legal department. With a dedicated team of service professionals available, we service over 2,200 clients and have a track record of excellence for over 30 years in entity management. If this sounds like a solution you are interested in, please give us a call or send an email to set up a demo today.