It takes a Herculean effort to manage compliance in any organization. You’re holding innumerable moving pieces together from the center of a perfect storm. Compliance management software tools promise to lighten the load, but not every solution is created equal.

We talk with people all the time who have invested in compliance software, only to discover that the system they purchased is only able to take them part way to the finish line. The software does some things well, but makes other things worse or doesn’t address them at all.

You can avoid the frustration of a bad purchase if you know what to look for, and if you ask the right questions. Don’t just ask about the software — find out what your experience with the software provider will be like as well. Here are the most important questions you should ask before you purchase your next compliance management system.

Questions to Ask About Compliance Management Software

Will the workflow adapt to you?

Every organization has its own way of managing compliance. Make sure the compliance software you choose is flexible enough to fit your way of doing business. After all, the tool exists to serve you, not the other way around! Some tools offer multiple templates, but each one of them is rigid. Find a tool that will let you completely customize your workflow to fit your company.

How fresh are status updates?

Don’t settle for a tool that gives you any less than up-to-the-second status information. Anything less than that will introduce uncertainty that you’ll have to spend time to address. That doesn’t save time, it increases it.

Can the tool handle all of your compliance standards?

There are a lot of standard-specific tools on the market that handle only one type of certification — only PCI-DSS, or only HIPAA, etc. If you’re going up against multiple compliance standards, you need a single tool that can easily manage all of them.

Who has access, and at what level?

Your compliance engagement involves internal personnel, vendors, consultants, and Assessors. If your compliance tool doesn’t allow you to add all of them — and with the right permissions levels — you’ll end up trying to work with each party’s own compliance system. That just adds manual labor and another layer of complexity.

Does the software automate compliance reporting?

Not every compliance management tool handles reporting. Some products generate a template that requires a lot of manual editing. Look for a compliance tool that will take all of the report generation out of your hands.

How is document version control handled?

It’s not unusual to have a single control document tied to more than 100 line item requirements. When you need to make a change to the document, how easy will it be to reconnect it to all of those locations? Find a solution that automatically does it for you.

Questions to Ask About Purchasing and Beyond

What are the total costs?

Make sure you don’t get surprised by hidden fees. What will onboarding and customer support cost? Are there hosting costs? Which pricing package were you quoted, and which one are you actually purchasing?

Don’t think purely in terms of upfront costs, but lifetime ROI as well. You aren’t just purchasing a tool, you’re making an investment. Compliance management software is designed to make you more efficient and help you save on operational costs. If the tool costs tens of thousands of dollars, it better save you tons of time!

What will your company’s ROI be with TCT Portal? Calculate it here!

How secure is the solution itself?

Just because you’ve purchased a compliance management tool, that doesn’t mean the tool itself is secure. Many compliance tools are built by software development companies that don’t live and breathe security and compliance — they’re in the software industry, not the compliance industry. Review their security documentation before you buy.

Related reading: How Secure Is TCT’s Customer Data?

What’s the implementation time?

Get an accurate picture of the time to get your solution set up. If you’re already in a compliance cycle, you probably don’t want to deal with a six- to nine-month implementation process. It should be a matter of hours, not a matter of weeks (or longer).

How quickly will software be updated to match standards changes?

PCI-DSS 4.0 is due to be released in fall 2021. How long will it take your compliance software company to update their product to accommodate the new standard? You don’t want to be waiting months for your compliance tool to be relevant again. It should be a matter of days.

How often will software be updated with new functionality?

Your ability to take advantage of new features and functions within the software platform is critical, not only from a perspective of continuous improvement but to stay ahead of the curve in a constantly evolving landscape. Does the provider listen to their users and keep them up to date on new features and functions? What portion of their updates are driven by the user base as opposed to an internal product team think tank?

What does customer support look like?

Make sure you’ll get the ongoing support you need. Ask about onboarding training and power-user training. Find out how responsive their support team will be. What level of service is standard, and will you need to pay for premium support service? You don’t want to be limited to a user forum that’s barely monitored by tech support staff. Compliance software is all about doing things more effectively and efficiently — if their support model is going to hold you back, then the solution isn’t curing what it should.

The Compliance Solution Built By Compliance Professionals

Managing compliance for your organization takes a lot of manual effort and time. A compliance software tool should do more than just part of the job. Your compliance management system should be a holistic, end-to-end solution that automates every possible part of the job and eliminates multiple hours — not a few minutes — from your week.

TCT Portal was built by people who spent years running compliance from the trenches, and it’s continually being improved by actual users’ feedback and requests. This is the solution that compliance professionals are literally asking for. Find out what a difference TCT Portal can make for your company.

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