Compliance sounds a bit like discipline. It often means pain, and no one enjoys pain. It’s an extremely time-consuming process. It entails endless data entry and reporting. But imagine all the things that could go awfully wrong if compliance didn’t exist.

No matter how involved the process gets, make sure to stay 100 percent compliant. Mistakes can be costly, setting you back thousands or even millions of dollars in violation fees. Here, you’ll learn how to keep track of compliance so you can sidestep trouble down the road.

Business compliance tracking

Compliance Is A Process, Not An Event

It’s easy to view compliance as an event. But that’s not an accurate understanding of what this all-important process entails. It’s best to view compliance as a continuous project, an integral component of an organization’s mechanics. Risk assessment never ceases, for example. The same goes for gap analysis and audits, both internal and external. Then there’s policy writing, formulation of procedures, and the attendant implementation.

Why Compliance Management Matters

Compliance management entails planning, organizing, and executing activities that help your business comply with all relevant laws and regulations. It has become a vitally important part of daily business management.

It concerns itself with matters such as internal audits, security procedures and control, and compilation of reports. It also involves gathering support documentation and third-party audits. Finally, there’s formulation and implementation of various policies and procedures.

The consequences of not complying — in part of completely — can be dire. Noncompliance can lead to a myriad of issues with regulatory bodies, and you may end up paying massive penalties. In some cases, the consequences may be so severe that the business sinks. It’s imperative to handle this process with the utmost diligence.

Business compliance meeting

Are You A Small Or Large Business?

Small and large organizations theoretically comply with the same regulations, but they handle compliance differently. Typically, large companies have enormous budgets dedicated to this process. They can buy the best and most current compliance capabilities and solutions. In addition, they can hire the finest consultants on Earth to help manage the process or provide expert advice.

In comparison, small enterprises often have limited budgets. As a result, they may not afford the most sophisticated compliance solutions. All too often, the compliance department in small companies is a one-person affair.

One way a small business can keep track of compliance is to use a comprehensive checklist. With such a checklist, it’s hard to miss important items. Almost always, spreadsheets are the go-to solution when it comes to managing compliance in such businesses. But while doing everything manually may seem ok, it’s not always the best approach.

You Can Use Spreadsheets For Tracking Compliance, But….

Small companies typically use spreadsheets to manage compliance. That’s because spreadsheets require very little effort to set up. You don’t need expensive IT support. In addition, you don’t need coding skills. What’s more, spreadsheets make executing simple calculations incredibly easy. Most important, you can record all kinds of information and data. One more thing: spreadsheets are quite easy to update. What’s not like about spreadsheets?

However, spreadsheets can make compliance tracking cumbersome and time-consuming. You can’t build automation into spreadsheets. You gather all kinds of information and evidence from all kinds of channels and input it manually. As if that’s not enough, you have to create reports and share the company’s compliance status manually.

In addition, errors aren’t uncommon in spreadsheets. And when an error occurs, it’s hard to figure out its origin. According to Systemid.com, 9 out of 10 spreadsheets contain significant errors. That’s mainly because spreadsheets offer no auditing trails. But it gets worse. If an inexperienced employee handles this compliance tool, the odds for mistakes increase threefold!

Also, there’s the little issue of security and data protection. It’s no secret — spreadsheets aren’t the most secure compliance management tool out there. Sure, the tool offers password-based protection. It also lets you hide formulas and lock cells.

On top of that, it provides password-based protection for add-ins and macros. Unfortunately, the level of protection you get doesn’t translate into complete peace-of-mind. Why? It’s because someone with ulterior motives can easily corrupt your data. Now, that’s a scaring prospect.

So, is there a more efficient solution? Yes, fortunately. You can use appropriate compliance tracking software.

Compliance tracking software

Consider Using Compliance Tracking Software

One reason many businesses today rely on spreadsheets is they’re relatively inexpensive. A decade or so ago, only companies with deep pockets could access compliance tracking software. Apart from that, GRC solutions haven’t always been easy to implement.

Today, fortunately, businesses of all kinds can access affordable GRC solutions and handle their compliance efficiently. These tools often come with an inbuilt and automated compliance checklist. You can’t forget anything. And if someone forgets to do their job, the software sends a notification reminding them to finish the task.

Also, searching for documents or evidence is easy. Simply type a relevant keyword, and that’s it. Best of all, you can access GRC solutions as SaaS. That means both small and large businesses can access this productivity-boosting software.

Final Thoughts

Compliance isn’t something to be taken lightly. To stay out of trouble, you must comply with all relevant laws and regulations. You can handle the process manually through solutions such as spreadsheets, but they come with many limitations.

Luckily, even small businesses these days can access affordable cloud-based GRC solutions. GRC technology increases efficiency, saving time. Stay out of trouble — get the right compliance management software.