Getting a handle on compliance standards in an ever-changing digital economy poses considerable challenges for businesses. For many organizations, the goal of remaining compliant may feel like a moving target, but automation is helping them rise to the challenge.
In a 2020 survey of more than 1,000 cybersecurity and compliance professionals, 83% said they plan to automate risk management and compliance efforts by 2021. Many organizations are embracing automation in compliance workflows to avoid fines, protect data, and cut costs—just to name a few of the technology’s benefits.
Compliance Control Issues in the Digital World
Today’s compliance demands are rigorous, expensive, and complex. A study conducted by CoalFire and Omdia found that each compliance requirement carried by a business will require more than 10,000 hours of attention to maintain the status quo. The same study found that 60% of companies face difficulties when managing compliance efforts, and a majority view compliance as a severe obstacle for their business.
What makes compliance in the modern business era so challenging? There are a few key factors at play.
Increase in regulations and fines
Today, businesses face more regulations and greater fines than they did just a few years ago. CoalFire’s study discovered that 98% of companies must now comply with two or more compliance standards, while nearly 70% are subject to compliance with more than five.
Businesses now face added pressure to store and reference data in their compliance documentation, creating more work and higher accountability. Companies that wish to conduct business will have to follow suit by embracing the digital age of information. In 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice updated compliance guidance that requires companies to provide comprehensive analytical data about their institution. “What methodology has the company used to identify, analyze, and address the particular risks it faces? What information or metrics has the company collected and used to help detect the type of misconduct in question?” To efficiently fulfill these standards, companies will have to lean on data analytics and artificial intelligence.
“The emphasis on data analytics and third-party risk management has evolved to the point where we are no longer just reading between the lines,” said Alan Gibson, an assistant general counsel at Microsoft. “The expectation that companies use these tools has been expressly called out.”
Fines imposed for FCPA violations also continue to increase, making the transition from domestic to global compliance more difficult. The average fine in 2012 was US$21 million, but in 2020, it rose to US$447 million. This explosion in regulations and penalties is incentivizing companies to rank compliance much higher on the list of business priorities.
A significant uptick in regulations means more time and resources are needed to keep organizations compliant. According to the CoalFire and Omdia survey, more than half of the respondents spend 40% or more of their security and privacy budgets on compliance. And that’s just money leaving their bank account—58% of companies now consider compliance as a gatekeeper that prevents new business.
While compliance doesn’t fully dictate the total cost of IT spend, it certainly plays a big role. Many regulations mandate that organizations meet secure technological requirements. This focus on security keeps costs high. Hyperproof’s 2021 IT Compliance Benchmark Report concludes that 54% of all organizations expect their spending on IT risk management and compliance to increase.
The (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study—an annual global survey of private and public companies—reports that 64% of organizations are experiencing a cybersecurity professional shortage. Without knowledgeable security professionals, companies are more exposed to risk and legal ramifications. Experienced professionals are necessary to maintain close attention to compliance controls, risk factors, and lapses.
Despite the shortage, many companies say they intend to ramp up hiring—increasing their overall compliance spend even further. The average salary of a cybersecurity professional in the U.S. is $112,000—that’s more than $70,000 higher than the median annual American salary.
Why Automate Your Compliance Workflow?
Organizations that automate compliance workflows stand to gain massive benefits in cost reduction, risk mitigation, and efficiency. These improvements aren’t just good for internal operations—strong compliance is also good business. According to CoalFire, organizations that market their upgraded compliance and security measures are seeing as much as 33% more pipeline conversions. For organizations that want to automate compliance functions, there’s no shortage of available tools that offer these benefits.
Save Time and Money
Making the auditing process faster and easier for regulators significantly cuts down on fees and shortens timelines. In CoalFire’s study, surveyed companies said that using innovative methods, such as automation, resulted in 40-50% savings in compliance resource requirements.
Costs associated with evidence collection, reporting, and 24/7 monitoring are putting a strain on compliance budgets. Using the ease and power of automation to store data provides a streamlined way of accessing it for controls and risk monitoring. According to Hyperproof, their audit collecting automation tool can help compliance officers save up to 70% of their time. Alerting colleagues, categorizing different buckets of evidence, and standardizing workflows can all be managed with automation.
Reduce Risk Exposure
With manual compliance control, team members are inputting data into spreadsheets themselves—leaving a large amount of room for human error. It’s easy for these mistakes to go unnoticed since most spreadsheet tools aren’t designed to send alerts or updates about compliance requirements. Employees have to check the spreadsheets themselves for inconsistencies. With the number of regulations increasing, checking this data can quickly become too big of a task for team members. Employees may be overworked, and your company’s risk exposure will increase.
Automation enables you to spend less time on manual compliance tasks, so you can pay attention to potential lapses and risk indicators. Should an incident occur, you’ll know about it immediately. Onspring’s automation suite integrates all aspects of your compliance controls—incidents, vulnerabilities, regulations, policies, audits, and risk registers. You’ll be notified about incidents using integrated email that sends automated updates to users in real time.
Increase Transparency and Communication
With so many regulations to track, a clear documentation process is a key ingredient for staying compliant. You want to know exactly where each piece of compliance reporting lives, so you can easily show customers, auditors, and regulators that your business has been operating in a secure manner. This organization will make compliance documentation more accessible internally, so team members can request information and input when needed to complete reporting.
LogicGate’s compliance management software gathers all of your compliance procedures into a single dashboard. This centralization increases visibility into your organization's complex array of compliance requirements. If an incident does occur, you can quickly respond and send real-time alerts to team members. They can then easily access the reports and data stored in one system.
Find an Entry Point for Compliance Automation
So you’re all in on the benefits of automation and what it can do for your compliance strategy—now what? As the cost of compliance continues to rise, CFOs and other business leaders will need to reevaluate budgets and priorities. Compliance officers can use this opportunity to demonstrate the value of automating compliance controls. A great way to get the ball rolling is to identify the biggest pain point in your compliance workflow. Investigate the resource savings of removing bottlenecks and communicate that value to stakeholders. After seeing the numbers, the argument for investing in automation may be compelling enough to take action.