For organisations operating in more regulated sectors like social care, manufacturing, healthcare, professional medical services, and financial services, aligning your IT to empower your compliance can be a game-changer.
With compliance being crucial to your operations, but with outcomes being uncertain, using technology to gain observability, control, and assurance over your regulatory compliance, can do much more than give peace of mind and minimise risks; it can also contribute to a much more streamlined and efficient operation in your business.
In this final article in our series on IT for compliance, we delve into the key elements of using technology to make compliance easier and more assured in your business.
How IT Can be Used for Regulatory Compliance in Industries: An Example
We probably don’t need to tell you about how important compliance is for your industry, but often, businesses overlook and underutilise technology as mechanism for simplifying compliance.
In social care for example, a large minority of care homes are not using the full suite of tools on the market to ensure consistent quality care, and relatedly, to comply with the CQC’s (Care Quality Commission) standards. These tools include care planning software, electronic health records, roster and medication management software, and training/e-learning platforms. Not only this, these tools can magnify efficiency and add more value.
Of course, the reasons behind this are no simple thing; along with many of the constraints facing care providers, many of the best solutions described above are cloud-based, with some care home office staff being limited to using desktop-bound software that is hard to integrate together.
The key point is that specialised technology is available that can be used to empower not only service delivery in different industries, but also data compliance and assured quality standards. Better is possible! The first step is to understand what we need, and to cast our eyes out to find what can be helpful to us.
Get the Lay of your Regulatory Landscape
Of course, the first step is to take the time to recap on the regulatory expectations facing your business, how they relate to your operations and IT tools, and where there are gaps and opportunities for improvement.
First, start with understanding the requirements. You may also already have direct experience, previous audit reports, and data, to give you an understanding of what’s required and could be improved. You can understand the requirements in terms of:
- Why: what outcomes do regulators want to ensure?
- How: what actions or steps need to be taken to ensure compliance?
- What: what evidence and measurements verify that compliance is being achieved?
- When: alongside continuous processes, are there regularised events such as report filings or inspections, that you should be aware of?
- Who: what stakeholders are involved in achieving compliance? Are there specific roles that need to be assigned within your business for compliance purposes?
Document these requirements. By doing this, you will be able to use them as guidelines for decision-making, relate them to your current policies and processes, and refer back to them in a way that works for you and your team. Next, you will want to survey your IT environment to find opportunities for improvement.
Leave No Stone Unturned in Your IT Environment
You can audit your IT environment using specialised tools for your sector and its governing regulatory bodies, to systematically scope out where improvements can be made. These tools can give you a comprehensive benchmark for your compliance vitals.
This is easier for things such as surveying data in popular software, but for more technical aspects that may be involved, such as your server and network configuration, you may need the help of an IT support provider to undertake an audit.
Take care to consider harder to measure, qualitative factors that might escape the purview of digital tools as well. Compliance is about people and processes, not just data! Another important thing to consider is that while you may uncover data that indicates compliance gaps, you may still need to identify how they were created. Are they caused by faulty processes, information gaps, or tools that lack certain functionalities for example?
Once you know the causes behind the data, you can find IT solutions, and even features within your current toolkit to address them!
Find and Implement Tailored Compliance Solutions
There will almost certainly be a number of different tools out there than can help you to enhance your compliance. Alongside auditing and monitoring solutions, there are operational tools that align with compliance requirements. In the social care example earlier, many providers of care planning software will align it with CQC requirements, while a legal firm may use case management software that empowers compliance with the requirements of the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority).
You may find that your current tools are being underutilised, that they do not offer certain functionalities you need, or that perhaps because different software are not integrated together, this is contributing to compliance gaps or inefficiencies.
Scout the market for solutions or tools that can work. In some cases, where technology and data integration can prove to be a game-changer, an IT support provider can help you to bridge the gap. Once you find solutions that can help, taking care to holistically plan any implementations and transitions will be key for a secure and empowering change in your compliance posture.
Undertake Employee Compliance Training
Technology is inseparable from people. To get the best from your IT solutions for compliance, empowering your people to understand how to comply, why it matters, and how your tools can be used to operate adherently, will all be crucial. Training can focus on understanding data protection and compliance requirements, as well as how to use any new IT solutions effectively.
Get In Touch to Discuss Your Own Half-Hour Cyber Awareness Training
The vast majority of cyber incidents are caused by human error, get in touch with us today to discuss a cyber aware awareness training session for your business, and transform your weakest security link into your strongest security and compliance protection asset.
Our sessions equip teams with the knowledge of cyber security best practices and the ability to detect even sophisticated phishing threats, enabling your business and its compliance posture to focus on what it does best, uncompromised by today’s cyber threats.
Don’t Forget Data Management and GDPR!
Given the omnipresence of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the UK, special attention must be directed here. Often, industry-specific regulations may already include provisions for protecting personal sensitive data, or your activities will involve processing it anyway. You may want to read the earlier blog in our series about GDPR, for help in understanding and using tools for empowering compliance here.
Collaborate with Experts in Your Industry
Sometimes, the best way forward is to bring an expert on board. This could involve bringing onboard an IT support provider that can seamlessly understand your IT environment and how this is affecting compliance, or industry experts for example.
The benefits of working with experts can more than pay off the investment, as they may be able to identify problems and help you to implement solutions in a faster and more in-depth way compared to going it alone.
Stay Updated with Regulators
Keep on top of changes within your regulatory landscape! This can look like following trusted industry-specific news sources and following regulators for updates that may affect your compliance requirements and efforts. By staying updated, you can maintain readiness and agility to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to complying seamlessly with regulatory requirements.
Embrace Cloud Solutions
Contrary to popular belief, cloud solutions are often highly secure and, in the UK, cloud solutions (especially industry-specific software) will often be structured to be compliant with requirements and have in-built tools that can help. Cloud solutions also bring much more opportunities for gaining more observability, integrability, and control over your compliance in your IT environment, making it more seamless and easy for your business.
Implement Backup and Disaster Recovery
Imagine losing access to your data, experiencing a breach, or a shutdown of your systems; it’s not hard to see how much this can impact and hurt your compliance efforts. By having backups for your data and systems, alongside robust cyber security measures, you can ensure that your data protection and compliance efforts are not disrupted by accidents, malfunctions or cyber threats.
In many industries, the bar can be rather high for achieving the kind of compliance posture that would come out of an audit unscathed. However, with the help of planning and implementing IT tools, you can gain more clarity, control and assurance over your compliance adherence. Technology is getting better and better at empowering these efforts, and can save time, money and mitigate risks like never before.
By intertwining your business goals with the principles of regulatory compliance, you position your business to be an exemplary beacon of compliance and stay ahead of the curve!
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