The Need for an IT Compliance Plan

Two coworkers working together on a laptop

It’s easy to have laws for the road, where signs can be posted and officers patrol to make sure people are staying safe. The internet and the technology that goes with it, however, can be much harder to keep track of! That’s why it’s important for your company to be proactive in keeping up with relevant laws and regulations through an IT compliance plan.

A compliance plan is a set of checks and balances in which a company attempts to identify possible non-compliance issues with current laws, as well as to eliminate or minimize those issues. Simply put, it’s a system of inspections and remedies to ensure that any problems are fixed.

A compliance plan might be created for things like:

  • tracking regulatory tasks
  • conducting compliance assessments
  • responding to IT violations

Think about this: One of your employees gets busted for consumer fraud because they used deceptive marketing to sell a product. If you’ve trained your employees on fair and equitable marketing practices and you can show the government your training records for that employee, federal and state prosecutors are much more inclined to go after that individual rather than the company itself.

If you don’t have good records of the training (or didn’t do the training at all), that would be equivalent to telling prosecutors, “Oops sorry, we had no idea what they were up to!”. Suffice to say, that response rarely helps a company avoid penalties.

Though the following information is by no means comprehensive, here are some useful tips on how to carry out a successful compliance plan:

1.Gather Information

Collect as much information on your compliance efforts as possible and organize it in a way that is accurate and useful. You can give surveys to employees to discover trainings that they might like or places where they feel like accountability is lacking. Outside audits can also provide important information.

2. Analyze

Clean and organize your data. Analyze and report trends in compliance activity to the right executives.

3. Set Goals

Create goals and make sure to measure results. You might consider rewriting your code of conduct or providing more effective workforce training. Don’t forget to track the progress of your initiative to figure out whether or not your compliance program is keeping up with best practices.

4. Escalate

Determine which risk management personnel or executives would be able to react appropriately to red flags or breaches.

5. Address Problems Quickly

When flaws and failures are discovered in the system, they should be addressed by strengthening internal controls to match and manage them. This could like increased documentation or more intracompany accountability.

6. Train

Train your employees. Remember, one of the most successful defenses against compliance breaches is to establish a “human firewall“. If employees recognize a non-compliant event as soon as they encounter it and know how to report it, you’ve established a solid corporate compliance culture.

7. Document

Keep track of your actions so that you can back up all your compliance efforts. A good reporting structure will always allow you to be ready for any inquiry.

8. Automate

We all make mistakes, especially with record-keeping! Moving from manual to automated reporting and monitoring processes will allow the flow of data to be constant and human intervention minimal, leaving less room for human error.

In general, a company’s management is responsible for ensuring that regular audits are performed. The IT department should also be involved in this process since it will be difficult to know what kinds of risks your company faces without fully understanding how computer systems operate and interact with each other.

Final Thoughts

Enhancing your company’s compliance plan is something that can help keep your company up to date and prevent you from making costly mistakes down the line. For this reason, companies of all types and sizes need to take advantage of a plan like this.

If you’re interested in learning more about how eMDTec can help protect your company, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to help you create a custom IT compliance plan that meets your specific needs and keeps you up to date with the latest laws and regulations.