One of the famous Dad lines of all time is “Make sure you have the right tool for the right job.” Nowhere is that more true than in the world of compliance. Not only have I seen companies struggle painfully while trying to use the wrong tool for the job, but I went through it myself when I first got thrown into the deep end of compliance.

Find a compliance management tool that’s designed specifically for the job, and your experience with it will suck a lot less. But not every tool is created equal. If you’re planning to purchase compliance management software (or build your own solution), you’ll quickly realize there’s a wide range of features and capabilities. But how do you know which features you need, and which features are just icing on the cake? You don’t want to pay top dollar for a bunch of bells and whistles that you’ll end up never using.

Let’s look at the must-have features you should look for in any compliance management software. No matter what tool you end up using, you’ll be in a good position if it has each of these capabilities.

Buying Compliance Management Software? Better Ask These Questions First.

Real-time status tracking

One of the biggest wastes of time in a compliance engagement is all of the manual status tracking that team leaders do. Each week, they spend multiple hours just trying to figure out where their team is at and what’s still outstanding.

An absolute must-have for any compliance management software is a real-time status tracking tool. TCT’s clients often report reducing weekly status checks from 2-4 hours to just 15 minutes or so. That’s a potential savings of hundreds of hours per year!

Learn more about it: Dread Checking Compliance Engagement Status? Do It in Under 15 Minutes.

Don’t settle for any compliance tool that doesn’t provide real-time status tracking.

Mapping Between Certifications

If you need to be compliant with multiple certifications, the right software choice can make all the difference in the world. Some compliance management tools will allow you to map your evidence between certifications.

For example, PCI-DSS is one of the most comprehensive and prescriptive certifications out there. If you’re already compliant with PCI, you have a head start on fulfilling many other standards, such as HIPAA or SOC 2. Mapping applies your evidence across standards, so that you only have to focus on the requirements that aren’t covered by other certifications. If you’re already PCI compliant, just map PCI to HIPAA (for example) and only deal with HIPAA-specific items.

Not only will you save time and effort, you won’t have to create duplicate documents or files for organizing the evidence.

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

Automated Notifications

Any time you can reduce manual gruntwork, the better. Look for a tool that provides automation for:

  • Daily status reports
  • Watchlisting — keeping your eye on certain elements
  • Intelligent reminder emails

One nice notification feature that TCT Portal offers is status reporting to interested parties, such as board members or executives — people who don’t want or need a login, but want to stay apprised of your compliance progress.

Centralized Data Repository

It’s not just the fact that you have one place to put your data. It’s one central place for EVERY piece of information related to compliance:

  • Evidence and files
  • Engagement status
  • Notifications
  • Communications
  • Project management

Anything and everything that has to do with compliance should be handled through your compliance management software. You’d be surprised how quickly things can spread to all kinds of disparate channels, making it nearly impossible to track down little, but important, pieces of information.

Find a tool that acts as a central repository for every little thing, and you’ll never regret it.

Operational Mode

It’s not enough to become compliant — you need to maintain compliance by practicing proper activities throughout the year, at regular intervals. At TCT, we call this Operational Mode. Many compliance tools help you manage compliance, but they start you back at Square One the next year. You have to re-enter all of your data and evidence into the compliance software, as if for the first time.

Make sure any tool you use will take last year’s data and use it as a reference point for the next compliance cycle. This reduces your workload to validating existing evidence as accurate or updating anything that requires a refresh since your previous assessment.

On top of that, your compliance software should provide automated reminders to let each person know when they have upcoming tasks that need to be completed. This allows you to keep your compliance maintenance to a series of bite-size tasks rather than an enormous project.

Hiring the right C3PAO is only one small piece of successfully navigating the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification. Get fully equipped with TCT’s online guide to CMMC.

Communication Tools

Every instance of communication should go through your compliance management software — no matter who you’re communicating to, or what it’s about. This is critical, because you need an audit trail and an easy way to find messages. You don’t want a situation like this:

  1. You send an email to someone requesting an action.
  2. They reply through Microsoft Teams, but it’s not what you need.
  3. You clarify your request through text message.
  4. They give you the information in a voicemail message, but you need an actual record of it.
  5. You stop by their cubicle and ask for the documentation.
  6. The next day they deliver a hard copy on your desk.

You have information for one item all over the place, with no audit trail. It happens all the time, and it adds countless hours and frustration to your efforts.

TCT Portal uses a handy Nudge feature. Simply add a note in the appropriate requirement — for example: “Hey Amy, can you confirm that these six people have had their background checks? Please add a comment to the explanation.” Select Nudge and send. TCT Portal delivers an email to Amy that she’s been nudged on an item and needs to go take a look.

Robust Security

Just because you’re using a tool to manage compliance and security, that doesn’t mean the tool itself has robust security features in place. Every vendor takes a different approach to how they handle security. It’s your responsibility to ensure that any solution you use will make the grade.

Because TCT Portal is designed to manage compliance for any certification, we built the platform to meet rigorous security standards, maintained via TCT Portal itself. Welcome to a whole new world of enterprise-grade security with TCT Portal.

Easy Report Generation

Most Assessment firms spend dozens of hours (or more!) copying and pasting data from spreadsheets into Word documents, reformatting the documents, and compiling them into an assessment report.

Find a compliance tool that makes it possible to generate your final report directly from the software. For example, TCT Portal uses the power of automation to transcribe everything that goes into the report template. Click a button, and it’s done!

Not only can you easily generate standard reports, you can also leverage custom reports. TCT Portal makes it easy to customize your reporting to include proprietary language as part of your report generation.

TCT Portal Is the Right Tool for the Right Job

TCT Portal is the most complete software tool available for managing and tracking compliance. We stand out from the crowd, because we aren’t a software company that builds a compliance tool — we’re a compliance company that understands the needs and daily life of compliance personnel. And we built a tool to address those needs. It’s the right tool for the right job.

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