Modern organizations are continuously battling an increasing amount of compliance, regulations, and requirements. At the same time, the amount of information and records organizations maintain is constantly growing, justifying the introduction of new systems and repositories to prevent content from spiraling out of control. This results in silos across disparate systems, creating new challenges with accessing and retrieving information for compliance needs.
While enterprise content management (ECM) practices and the digitization of information have certainly contributed to simplifying manual compliance practices, this evolution has also engendered the need for additional tools to effectively manage content and processes.
Modern organizations face the constraints of a multi-system approach where users and compliance managers require additional time to find and access the content they need and properly secure that content for staff, suppliers, and customers. This loss of resources in the name of compliance will only continue to be exacerbated by increasingly stringent regulations and requirements.
Unfortunately, remaining compliant isn't optional. Organizations looking to improve efficiency concerning compliance management and corporate security and mitigate any risk of bad publicity or fines must look towards their processes for answers. Understanding the challenges of achieving continuous compliance sets a powerful foundation for effective compliance management and general management of corporate information.
The Main Challenges Around Compliance
Maintaining compliance and properly securing corporate content and information can cause organizations to feel like a deer in the headlights. As a result, many encounter one or more of the following challenges relating to compliance and security.
The substantial time investment to keep up with regulatory changes
Investing sufficient time to adhere to existing regulations and policies is a must for organizations. Still, part of that process involves being aware of the ever-shifting nature of regulation revision, including implementing new policies.
It's not enough to comply once. Organizations must continuously work on updating their compliance processes to ensure all requirements are respected. While this is a challenge on its own, time constraints associated with allocating resources to complete these tasks are also strenuous.
Appropriate precautions are required when complying with strict guidelines - such as GDPR or CCPA - which takes significant investment from IT departments. Furthermore, failing to do so the first time will result in an increased loss of resources as the focus shifts towards damage control.
Inconsistent System Access
Despite compliance remaining top of mind for many organizations, the sheer volume of continuous, new data takes a toll on resources and processes. Unable to keep up, businesses lose control, security, efficiency, and overall performance with the risk of failing to comply with applicable regulations.
The right systems can prove invaluable when optimizing data retrieval. But too many systems can be a challenge. According to an AIIM study, 52% of organizations have three or more Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Document Management (DM), or Records Management (RM) systems, and 22% have five or more of these systems.
Having data stored across multiple systems and repositories is inefficient at the best of times; what's worse is the technology leveraged to manage this information is often disconnected.
Segmenting information in this way creates a real challenge for organizations to manage compliance processes effectively. Bringing data together across business lines, information locations, and functions requires significantly more awareness to ensure nothing is missed. Relying on unreliable technology in this way paves the way for human error, miscommunication, or the absence of critical information when it is needed.
Manual Processes and Human Error
Various forms of technology can aid the compliance process, but unfortunately, today's organizations aren't immune to manual processes and their associated drawbacks. For most organizations, compiling compliance-relevant information can't be done in a singular spreadsheet — meaning compliance officers are required to identify, locate, and secure relevant information across systems.
At face value, this might not seem like an issue. The difficulty arises when this information needs updating in response to a regulation change or a change in organizational practice. Reliance on compliance managers to ensure every piece of corporate information conforms with requirements is both time-consuming and highly vulnerable to human error through incorrect information processing or missing out on required updates altogether.
Risk of Incomplete Reporting
Disconnected systems impact users' ability to pull required information as and when they need it, which creates a patchwork process where users have to scour multiple systems to assemble reports. During this, they may not be sure whether the information they are gathering is the most recent version due to reliance on other manual processes.
Assembling reports in this manner is inefficient and dangerous as one can't be 100% sure that the information is accurate. Without access to consistent data, accessing this information is time-consuming, error-prone, and unreliable.
Inaccurate Auditing and Monitoring
Identifying inconsistencies and potential errors in compliance processes is crucial to remain on top of the ever-shifting landscape of compliance, yet doing so is impossible without a consolidated view of all related activities. Errors can easily slip through the cracks, but what's worse is the inability to monitor current processes accurately and provide relevant audits to improve.
The ability to monitor and provide accurate, detailed audits is essential for organizations looking to master compliance while scaling their business and managing growing volumes of information. While modern ECM solutions are equipped with complete audit trails, the time investment required to compound and compile this information across multiple repositories becomes unrealistic with ECM systems alone, further amplifying the potential problems caused by inaccurate monitoring.
One common element contributes to the above challenges; users and compliance officers cannot easily access information as and when they need it from a central location, hindering users' ability to securely and effectively manage data.
With a web-based content viewing solution that sits on top of existing ECM systems, users can easily access information from any repository in any format. This approach streamlines content access, prevents local downloads, and enables compliance managers to consolidate security controls and requirements into one centralized viewing solution. As content is streamed instead of downloaded, users have faster access to critical information while removing the risks associated with downloading and saving sensitive files.
Audit trails enable the visibility of views, edits, and greater document traceability via the audit log. Adopting a content viewer solution with built-in security and audit features can help strengthen compliance and enforce information privacy for staff, suppliers, and customers alike. This, alongside real-time annotations, comments, and editing, creates a robust piece of software that benefits process efficiency and aids compliance.
There are multiple benefits to using a content viewer as your ECM solution; we've covered this in a previous blog post that you can read here: Four Benefits of Using a Content Viewer to Secure Your ECM Solution.