You’ve been doing security and compliance self-assessments for years. Ever wonder why it feels like you’re starting from Square One every time? By now, your compliance process should be a well-oiled machine—instead of that sputtering jalopy you’re fighting with.

What if you could turn your organization’s compliance management into a high-performance engine?

The solution is often a simple approach that rests on consistency and accountability. But before we go there, we need to understand where the problem lies in the first place.

This guide will give you the basics of PCI and help you figure out how to make your certification journey as simple as possible.

What’s Wrong with Annual Compliance Assessments

For many companies that need to meet compliance standards, the annual third-party audit features a mad scramble to stumble across the finish line. It may have been chaotic, but it’s done. You can pat your team on the back, take them out to lunch, and put compliance and security requirements out of your mind for a while.

And that’s exactly the problem. Security and compliance management isn’t an annual activity — it’s a daily activity.

I know what you’re thinking right now: You barely survived a couple months of compliance activities — doing it every day will kill you. But now that you’ve achieved certification, you’re responsible for compliance tasks that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annually. At TCT, we call this “Operational Mode.”

If you don’t stay on top of those tasks throughout the year, they pile up and a major mess will be waiting for you when it comes time to do your annual assessment. Worse yet, you could lose your certification (and clients!) for not keeping up with your responsibilities.

There’s no one-and-done when it comes to compliance management. Organizations can’t get away with compliance cramming anymore.

But there’s good news. You don’t have to eat the elephant every day — you just need to take a bite.

Painless Daily Compliance Management?

Daily compliance management isn’t as painful as it sounds. Security and compliance is a lot like your high school term papers—do a little bit every day, and you’ve got plenty of time to hang out with friends. Wait till the last minute, and you’ll shoot yourself in the foot.

Here’s a simple five-step process to make Operational Mode work.

1) Change your perspective

Don’t think about compliance as something that you do once a year. You need to maintain compliance all year long, for the long term. If you don’t, there’s a much higher likelihood for someone to miss one of their responsibilities, and you won’t discover it until your next annual cycle. Worse yet, missed items could be elements putting your company at much greater risk.

Develop a culture of compliance throughout your organization. Operational Mode requires an authentic, ingrained culture of compliance at every level of your organization.

Related reading: Want Easier Compliance? Create a Culture of Compliance

2) Create a compliance schedule

Know the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual activities that you’re required to do. Each compliance standard spells it out in its requirements (in some cases it’s an elective choice of stringency of controls). Familiarize yourself with the cadence of responsibilities for each of your certifications.

Assign each task to a job position, not a specific person. If that person changes roles in the company, things could get confusing. By assigning tasks to job positions, you always know who’s responsible.

4) Adopt a system for tracking compliance management

You’ll need a simple, robust system for storing and organizing the evidence that shows you’re doing these periodic elements throughout the year. You can’t go to an auditor or a client nine months down the road and say, “Trust me, we did it.”

5) Keep people accountable

It doesn’t matter how simple your system is — if no one is using it, nothing will change. Now that you have your Operational Mode up and running, it’s critical to keep your people accountable for their responsibilities.

Over time, people will forget to do their tasks, or they’ll start to cut corners. Human error overlooks an activity, or staff turnovers create a gap. Whatever the case, you’ll need some way to keep people accountable and track the status of your compliance management.

This is the process of keeping your compliance manageable throughout the year. All of the chaos that you deal with during your annual compliance push is gone, because you’re doing all the little things that add up, throughout the year. It’s just a few minutes here, and a few minutes there. Easy peasy.

Like I said earlier, calming the chaos of compliance is a simple solution. The initial setup will take the greatest amount of time and energy, but once it’s done, you’re on cruise control.

As long as you follow all the steps.

Another Option: Automate Compliance Management

If that five-step process seems like a lot of work, you’re not exactly wrong. It’s a simple solution, but it requires manual effort to keep it running. That’s why TCT Portal has automated Operational Mode for you. TCT Portal spells out everything you need to do to keep on-track throughout your compliance cycle.

Handpicked related content: Slay the Compliance Dragon: Automate Ongoing Compliance Tasks

Periodic reminders are sent to the right people at the right time, so tasks are clear and manageable. This helps you to proactively alert team members of their responsibilities, confirm that tasks are getting done, and quickly get back on track, if needed.

TCT Portal shows the real-time status of your compliance management, so you always know the current state of your compliance at a glance.

The real magic reveals itself in the coming years, as your organization builds a repository of evidence over time. Many things change in an organization, including key staff who move on and possible changes to your assessment firm. With TCT Portal, all of your evidence in the coming audit cycle is easily referenceable from previous years—so you know exactly what was provided last time that passed muster for your assessor or auditor.

TCT Portal’s organizational power saves your team hundreds of hours they would otherwise waste attempting to manually gain control of compliance management.

Painless Compliance Management, All Year Long

You can make your security and compliance management easier, if you take the right actions to automate and simplify the process all year long. The right compliance management software tool can make all the difference, too.

Ready to streamline your audits and quit all the agonizing and wasted manual labor? TCT Portal can help make your compliance management painless.

Case Study: Discover how TCT Portal helped Phoenix Financial tame the chaos of compliance


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