While it takes a pretty egregious situation to actually fail a compliance assessment, there are plenty of organizations that get sent back to the trenches by their Assessor. These companies have a pile of issues to correct before they can pass the annual compliance assessment.

This isn’t just bad news for your compliance team, it’s bad news for your company.

Your First Compliance Audit: Will You Crush It or Get Crushed?

Compliance Rework Hurts Your Business

Not only is it a pain to go back to the drawing board, but it has real business impacts on your company.

For example:

  • It diminishes the morale of an already exhausted compliance team.
  • Other projects that your team members are on get slowed down or delayed.
  • Productivity suffers on the engagement, as well as on other projects.
  • Your personnel have to put in overtime for weeks on end.
  • Operational costs go up.

You have all those potential drawbacks, but the most critical of all of them: other organizations are dependent on you getting your compliance crap together, and they’re waiting for the report. If you’re behind on getting certified, you have some uncomfortable discussions ahead of you.

It’s critical to get it right the first time you go into your annual compliance assessment. If you aren’t prepared and don’t have everything buttoned up, it will impact your business and make life miserable for your personnel.

Here are the top mistakes to avoid.

Related: Avoid the Common Mistakes New Compliance Managers Make

Common Compliance Mistakes That Will Send You Back to Square One

Assumptions central

The number one reason organizations struggle to get through their audit is lack of diligent preparation. People tend to whitewash their responsibilities. “We have antivirus. We have a firewall. We notify clients of changes in our system. Okay, moving on.”

There’s more to it than that, so you shouldn’t make broadstroke assumptions without reviewing the details of what’s needed. With PCI DSS, for example, a single category can have several dozen line items that you need to fulfill. It’s not just three easy check boxes. Do your due diligence and go through every single line item. Verify it’s being fulfilled correctly, and provide evidence to support it.

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Lack of executive buy-in

In many organizations, executives give lip service to the importance of security and compliance, but there’s no real commitment behind it. When leaders don’t take it seriously, the people below them won’t take it seriously. The whole effort is doomed to limp along without much success.

Your top leadership must give real and meaningful support. They have to be actually committed to the success of your compliance program. That includes:

Everyone else in the company will step-to if the execs are serious about doing security and compliance right.

Setting it and forgetting it

Compliance isn’t something you achieve and then forget about. It’s something you maintain on an ongoing basis.

You need to be working on compliance tasks periodically throughout the year. If someone forgets to do a quarter’s worth of vulnerability scans, you’ll have to explain it to your Assessor, and you could be in trouble.

Vendor hangups

One part of your compliance obligations is to get documentation from third-party organizations. Chances are, they won’t deliver anything in a timely manner. Plan for that ahead of time.

I can’t tell you how many times my clients have asked a vendor for something immediately, and two weeks later they were still waiting on it. If you work out an arrangement with your vendor point of contact ahead of time, then you’ll have a better cadence for getting things delivered in a timely fashion.

Skipping QA

By the time you’re approaching the annual assessment, your team is tired and you just want to be done with it. It’s tempting to simply trust that everything is there and correct, to put a bow on it and drop it all on your Assessor. Don’t do it.

Go through an internal review before the audit. Have somebody check everything and validate it before you walk into your annual assessment. You don’t want any nasty surprises.

Most organizations don’t have the time or bandwidth to do that kind of review. Or, they lack the experience to do it well. A compliance Consultant has the expertise to do a deep dive and help you resolve problems before you go into your audit.

Use your Consultant to prep your team ahead of time, too. You don’t want people giving your Assessors answers that are inaccurate, you want them to respond appropriately.

Imagine having assurance from a trusted expert that you’re ready for your assessment. There’s nothing better than walking into that assessment with complete confidence, every time.

TCT Portal Helps You Avoid Compliance Mistakes

TCT Portal is the compliance management tool that makes it easy to avoid the compliance mistakes that companies make every day.

In TCT Portal, everything is organized down to the requirement level.

  • Associate policy documents, evidence, written explanations, and justifications for the files you’ve loaded.
  • Allocate fulfillment of items to individuals or groups on your team. Know each task that’s internally completed and what’s still outstanding.
  • Set workflows to go through the internal QA process before sending to the Assessor.
  • Add your Assessor into the workflow and deliver everything straight into their hands with the click of a button.
  • Store and organize all of your evidence and documentation in one place.
  • Use the automation capabilities to save hundreds of hours every year.

When TCT Portal is running in Operational Mode, it helps you stay on top of the bite-sized tasks that need to be done throughout the year. The platform automatically keeps track of your upcoming tasks and sends reminders to the right people at the right time.

TCT Portal makes sure that you think of everything under the sun before you enter the annual compliance assessment. If you aren’t using a compliance management tool to improve your organization and efficiency, everything is done manually. That means you’re needlessly burning hundreds of hours on pointless tasks every year.

Discover How TCT Portal Makes Your Company More Profitable

This compliance management platform is literally the tool that I wish that I had when I started doing security compliance engagements. That’s why we built it — to help people make compliance management suck less.

Be prepared and confident every time, with your evidence in hand for your assessment.

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