With thenumber of compliance rules and regulations actively impacting businessestoday, it will take more than one person to bring your company in line. Let’sconsider how each part of your business will influence compliance.
Yourfirst line of defense against compliance failures is the technology in use andthe team who maintains it. Consult with your IT team to discuss:
·Email Encryption: How are emails and files that go in and out of your officeprotected to avoid revealing identifying information?
·Data Encryption: How do you collect and retain credit card information? Arethere any gaps where that information could be stored or released in anidentifiable way?
·Firewall: Are you protecting your company data and communications using ascreen door that is easily opened by hackers, or are you using a multi-levelsecurity system preventing intrusions?
·Backups: How often, when and where is your precious company information backedup? Can you test your backups to prove they are effective? Is your currentbackup plan compliant regarding customer data?
·Data Availability and Storage: Who has access to your data? Only certainindividuals in your company should be able to access all data, like financialrecords or payment information. How are you restricting access on your networkor within line of business applications to ensure safety?
·Physical Access: Who has access to computer systems and servers? Do you trainyour staff to lock their systems every time they leave their desks? Are youusing privacy filters on appropriate screens to avoid wandering eyes?
Whilethis may not need to be a full-time role within your organization, you shouldhave a compliance champion on staff. Your IT company can absolutely set you upfor success, but they are not around to police your staff every hour of theworkday.
TheCompliance Officer is responsible for ensuring that your staff followsimportant compliance policies, maintains vigilance surrounding compliance,keeps documentation up to date, and works with authorities if necessary.Specifically, they:
·Watch for employees falling into bad habits, like leaving computers unlocked orsending credit card data haphazardly throughout the organization.
·Conduct/coordinate online or in-person training to keep compliance top of mind.We recommend proper education as soon as a new employee comes on board as wellas quarterly training.
·Maintain all the documentation required for compliance, like backup plans andcommunication standards.
·Liaise with federal and state regulators, as necessary, to prevent or mitigatean issue (with the support of your IT team and legal team).
Youcan have the most current technology in place and the greatest complianceofficer on staff and still fail at compliance if your employees are notonboard. At the end of the day, it comes down to successful employeeimplementation and clear communication. In order to achieve this, we recommendtaking the following steps:
·Gather everyone together: When you first adjust your company’s securityprotocols to ensure compliance, explain the reasoning to your team. If employeesneed to remember 16-character passwords, replace those passwords every 90 days,and have 5-minute time outs on their systems, they would probably like tounderstand why the changes are being made. Your IT team should help conductthis meeting.
·Send regular reminders: It’s simple to fall into what’s “easier” rather thancompliant. Consider sending a weekly or monthly compliance tip to all staff tokeep it top of mind.
·Conduct ongoing trainings: These trainings should be mandatory, involve your ITteam, and vary enough to stay interesting. Quarterly should be often enoughunless some regulation change calls for additional meetings.
·Multi-departmental planning: Different teams have different uses for data. Forexample, what makes the salesperson tick may make it impossible for accountingto operate within compliance. When it comes to collecting information that mustbe compliant, every department must be involved in process development tocreate smooth operations.
Complianceis not a one-person game. It involves the whole company, team engagement, andproper education and training to be successful.