There is a significant rise in regulations associated with IT systems and enterprise data. It is a mandate that IT professionals look after every aspect of these regulations, or else there is a possibility of heavy financial implication due to non-compliance.
Let us accept one fact that compliance is a part of life for any organization, particularly those industry verticals, which are highly regulated such as financial services, healthcare, and government. The moment we mention the word compliance, it immediately resonates with legal, compliance, and risk teams. However, there is a considerable involvement of IT departments in ensuring adherence to the organization’s compliance.
It is important that CIOs and other senior tech executives are well aware of the various regulations and guidelines around data, privacy, security, and other regulatory components within the technology landscape. These senior executives can play a pivotal role in ensuring no non-compliance, thereby avoiding a heavy penalty.
For instance, IT professionals in sectors such as healthcare and other affiliated sectors have had to ensure adherence to HIPAA compliance, which ensures the security and privacy of electronic healthcare data. However, we are seeing the regulatory framework getting more and more complex due to the evolution of many new regulatory guidelines such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Along with the United States, many other countries are constantly following similar protocols to ensure the data of individuals is protected. Compliance and regulatory framework for IT systems, networks, and hardware devices is a part and parcel of any organization. This definitely has made it a great matter of concern for CIOs across the world. In fact, research by leading agency Gartner has estimated that over 75% of personal information will be covered by global privacy laws by the end of 2023.
Thus, CIOs have to make sure that they follow certain procedures and avoid mistakes leading to non-compliance. Here are some of the IT compliance mistakes that they should avoid:
1. Considering your auditor as an adversary
When auditors and evaluators start questioning IT initiatives in an organization and their impact on compliance, it is quite natural for CIOs and other senior tech executives to go defensive. These auditors will start commenting on your thought process. This creates friction between the two, which is not going to lead anywhere.
Thus, it is always advisable to have a constructive and face-to-face discussion, understand the perspective of these auditors and try to work cohesively to make the environment better. The bottom line is that everyone is working towards the same goal, including the ones who have created these compliance guidelines; the objective is to establish transparency and accountability. If CIOs start embracing these internal audits and work in a collaborative manner with the auditors, there is a high possibility of addressing these compliance protocols easily.
2. Handling or rather mishandling of exceptions
Just as every rule or a guideline has some exceptions, there is also a set of exceptions for compliances in the IT framework. Hardly it happens that everyone is 100% followed to the dot. Things change due to changes in business scenarios, and customer impact. Hence, it is always beneficial to implement a process for managing exceptions around IT compliances.
It starts with documenting simple things like what is being followed and why there could be a possible conflict with existing compliance. Is the organization taking additional steps to adhere to the compliance objectives? Does the organization have a bypass rule, which is permanent in nature, or will it undergo observation and approvals before being executed? These are some of the pertinent questions that organizations have to ask and document and monitor on a regular basis and not become averse to it or rather take such exceptions for granted.
Whenever there is a rule that is bypassed, there should be a proper explanation because there is a potential risk involved when such rules are bypassed.
3. Failure of team readiness
Just like other areas of IT, even in case of compliances lack of proper skills, experience, and relevant knowledge can cause severe problems. To have a strong strategy around IT compliance, it is important to have a strong team. CIOs need to ensure that the team is continuously learning and improving themselves in the process of adhering to IT regulatory compliances. Having such an approach will help IT, teams, to improve their efficiency considerably.
It is inevitable that IT compliance is not just the responsibility of the IT team; it is a cross-functional practice making it equally responsible and accountable for every individual in the organization, across functions.
4. Compliance controlling security
While it is important to adhere to various IT compliance mistakes, particularly the regulatory protocols, the objective should be to have a well-defined security methodology that is in line with the business objective of the organization and the vertical and domain under which the company or department operates. When IT leaders take this into factor and are in sync with this approach, then compliance becomes a clearly achieved result and not just the only goal.
Usually, it is seen that fundamental security measures are not managed effectively, rather poorly, resulting in a roadblock for compliance. Some examples in this line will be patching, management of vulnerabilities, usage of 2-factor authentication for remote access, management of mobile devices and BYOD policies, and so on.
5. Ignoring some important tools
Today, there are a plethora of tools available in the market that address IT compliance mistakes. It is quite evident that legal and compliance teams work in tandem to finalize and procure these tools, IT leaders can also play a significant role in helping to shortlist, finalize and deploy these solutions in the organization.
In September 2021, Gartner had helped the global business fraternity by identifying three areas that the compliance team should focus their investments on technology.
The first investment should be in the core system of record-keeping, which acts as the foundation system for any organization. The second investment should be in tools that empower digital workflows and finally, the third one is solutions that help in monitoring and managing risks.
Organizations cannot ignore the fact that technology investment is inevitable in today’s scenario, no matter how simple the processes are. Instead of it being a procure and deploy method, it should be an enterprise-wide initiative, bringing all stakeholders together in this process.
6. Unstructured Governance
Finally, even though companies may have defined their processes and put all measures in place to control these processes, what they usually miss out on is the governance structure and risk framework in place. CIOs and other senior IT leaders should come up with a governance matrix that combines enterprise systems, information security, and network/infrastructure teams to collectively adhere to all IT compliances. That will be the factor that will drive success; the absence of which can prove to be disastrous.
To sum up, compliances are a set of guidelines that are created to not only protect data but also to help in a methodical and ethical way of functioning an organization. Yes, there are challenges in following these IT compliance mistakes, but can they be avoided? The answer is no. In fact, companies need to constantly learn and improve around these regulatory compliances, making their life simpler.