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Best compliance audit practices

Since the implementation of several regulatory bodies, compliance audits have become part of our day-to-day. To successfully comply with the regulatory standards you will need to adopt a set of tools and practices. Without them, compliance audits can be quite daunting.

What is a compliance audit?

Insufficient data management might lead to catastrophic risks. Put simply, a compliance audit is a review of the current operations and procedures in place to determine whether the company meets the regulatory standards. These regulations can differ per sector.

During this process large amounts of data need to be presented. Collecting the necessary data may therefore take a while. And without the safeguards in your process, human errors are inevitable.

In order to pass a compliance audit an audit trail is performed. An audit trail is a clear record that shows that every procedure has been followed before data is collected. This may also show what kind of security principles are in place to prevent unauthorized users from editing data or confidential information. Moreover, audit trails can also provide proof of any changes made to the requirements that may impact the workflow.

How is compliance auditing used?

The auditing process depends partially on the applicable standard for the product. Audits vary between various regulations. Whether it is to check compliance to electronics, food and beverages (21CFR), data protection (GDPR), or just all-round compliance regulations, they all have one thing in mind, protecting the end user’s safety.

While audit trails are reviewed by the regulatory body that holds the standard, the evidence of compliance is the responsibility of the company being audited. You can also hold routine internal audits to hold yourself accountable and make yourself more aware of your own compliance standards.

Compliance audit best practices

There are many different standards across numerous industries and regulations. Yet, the following three practices will help you to create and maintain a compliant operation.

Tip 1. Automating the process.

Proving compliance is more than just documenting the process. You need to prove that no person was able to make independent changes or push the product to the next step without completing all required conditions.

If you do this manually, or try to fit workflows from different tools together, human errors can occur. Not only can this become rather complicated, you can also ponder on what someone keeps from skipping a step?

Furthermore, it will take a massive amount of time. The more websites a company has, the more time is invested into this process. Manually checking each website for the correct SSL certificate and a correctly implemented Cookie Management Platform may take a while. A compliance manager may spend weeks tracking everything down, whereas an automated tool will deliver the report in mere minutes.

Tip 2. Define your repeatable process

Each regulation comes with its own set of requirements. To establish a workflow that mandates completion of a specific step before moving forward, you must first define these requirements. Permissions are also proven to be useful when ensuring that unauthorized people do not make any modifications and to designate a single person who shall be responsible for approving the work. The ability to protect access to specific and sensitive information is critical for compliance.

On top of that, an approval process has to be defined. Who can approve changes and who can promote a requirement to the next phase in the workflow? Additional electronic signatures are helpful as well. This helps you track every movement and who has modified it.

Tip 3. Implementing baselines

baseline is a collection of data at a certain point in time. This data set is compared to future versions to calculate how these two differ from each other. The information in these baselines cannot be modified making it a reliable way to compare versions. If any changes have occurred during the period between baselines, it must be shown in an audit trail.

The Nixon Platform

The Nixon platform offers an advanced Data Privacy Manager tool to help you manage your data privacy compliance. With over 50 scanners the platform will help businesses with a large website portfolio get an insight into their current data security practices and how to enhance them to meet the regulatory requirements. Additional features and functionalities will help these organizations to navigate the jungle of data privacy regulations.

Curious about the compliance of your Website Portfolio? With our free Website Compliance Check you get insights about the maturity level of your organization in terms of digital safety and compliance. Together with the Nixon Digital experts we can help businesses to understand and implement a website compliant to data regulations.