After last year’s U.S. presidential election, many businesses eagerly awaited a new “era of deregulation” that would allegedly result in relaxed compliance requirements – and lower costs. Although some regulations have been relaxed or even repealed, IT compliance is as time-consuming and expensive as ever. A recent survey by Wealth Management found that broker/dealers and registered investment advisors have increased their compliance budgets by an average of 9%. Further, investment advisors charged with compliance oversight report that compliance tasks take up 1/3 of their time.

So much for the “era of deregulation.” Fortunately, the “era of compliance automation” is upon us.

In the Beginning, There Was Excel

For many years, organizations and third-party IT auditors have been using Microsoft Excel to “automate” their IT compliance processes. This worked well – in the 1990s, when the only other option was paper files. If your organization, or your IT auditor, is still using Excel for “compliance automation” in 2017, you aren’t actually “automating” anything. Excel is a great spreadsheet program, but it is not an IT audit and compliance solution, nor will it do anything to help you with IT governance and risk management, which are integral parts of compliance.

Modern RegTech software solutions are designed specifically to create, measure, monitor, and manage IT governance programs for compliance frameworks such as COBIT, FedRAMP, COSO, SSAE 18 SOC 1, AT 101 SOC 2, CJIS, DFARS, ISO 27001, ISO 27002, ISO 27005, NIST, and ITIL. With compliance automation software, your organization gets a truly automated, workflow-driven approach to managing, communicating, and implementing IT policies and procedures.

Let’s look at some of the ways in which compliance automation software saves time, money, and headaches.

How IT Compliance Automation Software Helps You Work Smarter, Not Harder

It helps you bridge the cyber security skills gap. The cyber security skills gap is quite real, and it’s getting worse by the day. Qualified cyber security personnel are difficult to find, and even if your company manages to snag one, it will pay top dollar for them. Compliance automation software fills this void by getting you the expert compliance help you need right now, at a price that’s far lower than what you’d pay to hire internal staff or even outsource the work to an IT audit firm.

It frees up your internal IT resources. Information technology personnel don’t grow on trees, either. By automating your IT compliance processes, your internal IT staff have time to work on initiatives that will grow your business instead of being bogged down with compliance audits.

It enables rapid report generation. Compliance automation software lets you say good-bye and good riddance to fumbling around and trying to reconcile a dozen different spreadsheets. Easy-to-use self-help modules and a centralized repository of all IT compliance requirements, with their associated controls and automated information flows, let you generate complex reports with just a few clicks of your mouse.

It ensures that your controls are up-to-date. Compliance standards are continually evolving. Excel can’t tell you if your controls are compliant with the latest changes to IT security frameworks, but compliance automation software can. If the regulations change, you find out right away, and you can respond right away.

It eliminates silos and improves cyber security. Respondents to the Wealth Management survey named cyber security as the top priority of their compliance efforts. Compliance automation software doesn’t just make compliance easier; it integrates IT governance, policy management, risk management, compliance management, audit management, and incident management. With one user portal, you get the big picture of your organization’s cyber security controls, risks, and vulnerabilities.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Peters is the CEO of Lazarus Alliance, Inc., the Proactive Cyber Security™ firm, and Continuum GRC. He has served as an independent information security consultant, executive, researcher, and author. He is an internationally recognized and awarded security expert with years of IT and business leadership experience and many previous executive leadership positions.

He has contributed significantly to curriculum development for graduate degree programs in information security, advanced technology, cyberspace law, and privacy, and to industry standard professional certifications. He has been featured in many publications and broadcast media outlets as the “Go-to Guy” for executive leadership, information security, cyberspace law, and governance.