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A People-centric Approach to Regulatory Compliance

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June 18, 2015
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For a wide variety of business across different verticals, IT compliance and regulatory compliance is a top risk with the potential for significant effects on business processes, IT assets and enterprise architecture.  Senior leaders, from CIOs to CISOs, must manage these risks, which aren’t simply about compliance. They are also about making sure that planning and processes keep up with the pace of change.

For most organizations, managing IT regulatory compliance changes to achieve and maintain compliance poses significant challenges. For one thing, poor communications between IT leaders and an organization’s corporate compliance and legal functions can derail efforts to keep up with changes and exacerbate the impact of those shifts.

In addition, as much as a company might want to use technology to solve all of their IT compliance issues, no technology or service will be the cure-all that can track the entire universe of compliance responsibilities and global regulatory risks.

A People Problem: Everyone Needs to Work Together

When it comes to managing IT regulatory compliance changes, it is the “people side” that determines technology success. It takes everyone working together as a team — from both the technology and compliance/legal sides — to effectively address an organization’s IT compliance requirements.

Many different regulatory frameworks tie into IT and information security, but it all winds back to three essential elements:  confidentiality, integrity and availability. You want to make sure information hasn’t been accessed without authorization, and you need to deal with the integrity of various data sets. You must also make sure critical information systems are available when they are needed.

While confidentiality, integrity, and availability are critical to information security in all industries, different businesses may have distinct priorities. For example, publicly traded companies have an enormous emphasis on the integrity of financial reporting data. They need many controls to govern the accuracy financial data. For healthcare service providers and clinicians dealing with protected health information (PHI), confidentiality is a central concern. For pharmaceutical companies doing research as part of a drug trial, the availability of critical systems may be the most essential.

These are three key recommendations for IT and business leaders looking to optimize their IT regulatory compliance change management.

  1. Compliance programs should be collaborative and holistic.

    Dealing with IT compliance is a group effort that requires collaboration and dialogue. An organization’s program should involve many areas of the company, including compliance, legal, the C-suite and the IT/operations team, who need to meet regularly to identify relevant developments. By creating a holistic, collaborative program, companies won’t be blindsided by new systems or changes that could expose them to undue risk, legal exposure or compliance failures.

  2. Map a cohesive program to the applicable regulations.

    Rather than duplicating or fragmenting efforts into distinct projects for each regulation, a common set of controls and policies should be defined and implemented that meet the company’s needs and map them to regulations. Fragmented, separate projects cause gaps and silos, as well as needlessly “reinvent the wheel.” There tend to be many common elements so you shouldn’t have to duplicate efforts and resources.

  3. Monitor trends to stay ahead of the curve.

    By constantly monitoring IT regulatory trends, a business can adapt and change as needed to stay ahead of the curve and avoid compliance gaps. If the company keeps track of new regulations before they become mandates, rather than being caught by surprise, it can be very agile and responsive in meeting company obligations. It can help to develop a formal process for compliance risk assessments, involving all stakeholders, to analyze regulatory changes and their impacts.

Conclusion

Peak 10 has many clients in a variety of different industries that count on us to help them maintain compliant operations. While we are a partner in their solutions, it’s essential that organizations create a collaborative, team-oriented environment to monitor and manage IT regulatory changes. By handling the “people problem” related to IT compliance management, companies can be both prepared and agile in their response to the pace of change.

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