Employees look over their compliance management software.
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February 7, 2019
    Article highlights
  • Find a Solution That’s Right for You
  • Compliance Starts With Policies

Compliance plays a critical role in today’s corporate landscape, especially for businesses in highly regulated industries.

Those who succeed understand the importance of mitigating risk by creating an effective compliance program with policies, procedures, processes, and systems to address compliance requirements.

But keeping track of all the requirements and documentation can be difficult for even the most seasoned compliance professionals.

That’s why many turn to compliance management software.

A solid compliance management system reduces the time, stress, and cost of the administrative tasks inherent in governing and tracking regulatory requirements.

Because of the complexity (and sheer volume) of compliance tasks, compliance management software ensures nothing falls through the cracks. And, if you choose the right compliance software, you can access real-time data so there’s no lag in staying current on internal policy changes.

Selecting the right software solution can prove difficult, however, when faced with so many compliance management solutions.

Which features do you look for? What functionality best meets our specific needs? How easy-to-use is the compliance software? Does it provide more than document storage and retrieval, such as tracking and training?

To take the guesswork out of compliance management software, follow this step-by-step guide to find a solution that meets your specific needs.

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Find a Solution That’s Right for You

You want to practice due diligence in researching the best compliance management solutions for your company.

It starts with a thorough assessment of your needs, a review of your current solution, and a discovery process to look at what compliance management solutions are available.

Then you wrap it up by creating a launch plan (that includes implementing, communicating, and training), getting leadership buy-in and approval, and finally, purchasing and executing your launch plan.

1. Determine the need

You need to first know where you are before you can determine where you need to go.

Start with a comprehensive audit of the current situation.

What compliance or regulation issues are most pressing? What current or potential problems is the business dealing with? How much are violations costing the company? (If you aren’t tracking this, you should.)

Don’t skip this step – ­and don’t do it in a vacuum.

Gather input from across the company to get a rigorous assessment of your current compliance program that is both realistic and inclusive.

This will help you set a baseline for where the company is today and set a solid foundation on which to base future decisions.

2. Survey existing solutions

Take stock of your current compliance solution.

You might be relying on a paper solution, a series of spreadsheets, or some piece of software. Like many businesses, your company might even be using a combination of multiple solutions.

And depending on the size of your business, different departments and divisions might each have their own separate but disconnected solutions.

Regardless of your existing compliance management system, you’re here because these solutions are not solving the problem.

You need to understand why before jumping into a big purchase.

Talk to those who manage those existing processes and solutions.

Ask them why the solutions are in place? What problems do they solve? Are they effective? Why or why not? What areas would the staff like to see improved, removed, or changed?

These questions and answers will provide crucial data points for the next steps.

Compliance management software is discussed at a meeting in a conference room.

3. Research potential solutions

Now that you’ve analyzed the needs and understand the existing solutions, it’s time to match up that information with available compliance management software.

You should look for software that addresses those specific needs and wants.

At this stage, companies often consider the option of build vs. buy. Should you build an in-house solution or buy an off-the-shelf software?

While it does provide a custom solution, it’s costly and takes an enormous amount of time, effort, and resources to build from the ground up, modify, test, maintain, and upgrade.

It requires extensive IT expertise, and if you don’t have it in-house, you’ll need to rely on external help, adding to the cost.

Plus, if you want to get compliance management software up and running quickly to house and develop your high-liability content, developing a solution from scratch is probably the slowest way to go.

The realistic timeline? Building in-house can take up to a year to implement, while an out-of-the-box solution like PowerDMS can be implemented in 90 days.

Developing an in-house solution is certainly doable.

But you should think through those costs and benefits and balance that with the immediate needs to solve your most pressing compliance issues.

In this “investigative stage,” it often helps to read through online review sites like Capterra and G2Crowd to understand the landscape and see what’s working for others.

Take it a step further by requesting several product demos to see first-hand what will actually work in the context of your company’s specific needs.

Just like clothes that look good on the hanger but aren’t a good fit once you try them on, software can sound great on paper, but might not be a good fit for your business.

It could be the most expensive, powerhouse tool on the market, but if isn’t user-friendly and doesn’t work for your specific situation, it will be tough to get buy-in from your organization.

4. Compare your needs with what’s available

While you might be tempted to make a checklist or comparison chart of what you need versus what’s available, make sure you’re making an apples-to-apples comparison. Think of what you’re getting for the price.

Many compliance management solutions are very big, very robust, and very expensive.

If that’s what you need, great – you’ve found the right fit.

Also, don’t look at just the cost of the software itself. Consider the total cost of compliance management solutions including implementation, onboarding, and training costs – which can add up quickly with some software.

5. Have a launch plan

While you’re making your decision, start thinking about how you’ll roll this solution out to the entire company.

Most of the time compliance initiatives fail because employees don’t understand why they’re being asked to do compliance-related tasks or processes.

Understanding this, think of a communication and training plan you can use in tandem with implementing whatever new compliance management system you choose.

This will help you to think through what issues employees might face trying to learn a new system, or what sort of alignment you might need with specific groups or roles.

6. Present multiple options and one recommendation

In an ideal world, you would go through the first five steps outlined above and find the one-and-only software that meets your need.

But in reality, that doesn’t happen often.

Usually, you’ll discover several good options, each with pros and cons.

In this case, it’s good to present leadership with several viable options along with your one specific recommendation.

Ideally, they’ll trust your judgment and listen to your recommendation. But providing them with several options will give them buy-in to the final decision, making them more supportive of it.

7. Purchase and execute your launch plan

Hopefully, the decision-making process goes quickly and smoothly. You’ve found the perfect solution, you’ve got leadership buy-in, and you’ve got plans for implementation, communication, and training in place.

Once the compliance management software is approved for purchase, it’s go-time. Simply set up a timeline for each stage of the process to keep everything on track.

Employees conduct an internal audit using their compliance management software.

Compliance Starts With Policies

For many organizations, simply putting all of their policies and training into a single, cloud-based system will help simplify their compliance management and helps save thousands of dollars in paper costs alone.

An easy-to-use compliance management solution like PowerDMS helps you draft, revise, distribute, and report on all of your policies in one place.

Powerful search capabilities ensure you always find what you’re looking for – ­quickly and easily. The intuitive web-based platform drives accountability on both ends, too.

Robust tracking ensures you’re on top of revised policies that need signing. And employees can see at-a-glance any changes made since the previous revision.

Plus, you can have secure access on the go with the PowerDMS mobile app, putting crucial information in the palm of your hand wherever you are.

A good-fit compliance management software should serve as an automation tool that reduces the time, stress, and cost of measuring, tracking, and sustaining your company’s compliance with regulatory requirements.

While selecting the right solution can be daunting, following this step-by-step guide can ease the process of choosing a compliance management system that’s the perfect fit for your business.

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