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What Should I Look for in Compliance Software Vendors?

What Should I Look for in Compliance Software Vendors
Compliance software platforms are playing an increasingly important role in companies’ risk management strategies. Recent years have seen a surge in the number of businesses that are seeking compliance management software solutions. This is, in large part, due to the ever-increasing number of regulations that are impacting companies in a variety of business sectors.

Recent years have also seen a greater collective awareness of the risks and consequences that are associated with non-compliance. Data privacy regulations such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) are just two examples of measures that have led to this greater awareness and spurred action toward achieving and maintaining compliance.

The problem: there are dozens of different options in the realm of compliance software. Plus, compliance management features are often included in some of the more comprehensive risk management software systems, presenting yet another option to consider. This leaves many wondering what to look for in compliance software vendors as they navigate the selection process.

What Does Compliance Management Software Actually Do?

As you begin to explore your options for compliance software, it is important that you have a good handle on how this software actually works. This way, you will be well-prepared to evaluate feature sets and functionalities.

Compliance software serves to automate and streamline compliance-related activities within an organization. These platforms feature a variety of tools that empower companies in a few ways, including the following.

  • Identify new laws and regulations.
  • Identify changes to existing laws and regulations.
  • Determine what measures are currently in place to achieve compliance.
  • Automate the change management process.
  • Identify conditions that may result in non-compliance.
  • Track and coordinate the implementation of new compliance-related measures.
  • Facilitate the development of new policies and procedures to achieve compliance.

These are some of the key functionalities that you can expect to see in a compliance software solution. Comparing different compliance software vendors and their offerings can be challenging since it’s rarely an apples-to-apples comparison, but looking for the aforementioned capabilities will usually help lead you down the right path.

Do the Compliance Software Vendors Offer SaaS Solutions or Traditional Software Licensing?

Compliance software may be offered in two forms: a software-as-a-solution (SaaS) solution or as a traditionally-licensed software. SaaS compliance software has soared in popularity, but the best option will vary depending upon your needs as an organization.

SaaS software offerings are made available on a subscription-type of basis. The software typically “lives” in a cloud-based infrastructure where it is accessed via a web portal. SaaS compliance software platforms tend to be more affordable since the fees are charged on a monthly basis. Vendor support is typically quite robust for SaaS software, with the vendor’s development team deploying updates and performing all necessary maintenance. This results in less overhead and less — if any — need for attention from an in-house tech team.

Some vendors still offer traditional software licenses, whereby you purchase the software for a one-time fee and subsequently own it. This represents a much larger expenditure compared to SaaS. The burden of maintenance and deploying updates typically falls in your lap, but you maintain full control over the platform and its data. Alternatively, vendors may offer software licenses that expire after a period of time — typically one year. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to the license timeframe if you opt for this type of compliance software.

Does the Compliance Software Vendor Offer Customization and Integration?

Compliance software is usually closer to the “plug and play” end of the spectrum versus the custom-tailored-from-the-ground-up enterprise software platform. But some companies may require customization or integrations with third-party platforms in order to achieve optimal efficiency with their risk management efforts. If this is the case, you’ll want to seek compliance software vendors who offer customizations and integrations. This option is not always prominently advertised; often, the only reference is the fine print encouraging prospective customers to contact the vendor to discuss “enterprise solutions” or similar.

Does the Vendor’s Software Include Real-Time Updates and Alerts

The compliance landscape is constantly evolving. A good compliance management software platform needs to include features that align with this ever-changing nature.

Good compliance software vendors will include real-time feeds, dashboards, alerts, and other features that can be used to convey critical information such as new legislation and regulations, changes to existing regulations, and events within your organization that may lead to non-compliance.

As the saying goes, “Knowledge is power,” and this rings true when it comes to your compliance software. You want a vendor that recognizes the importance of real-time data. It is this information that allows a company to take immediate action when there is a risk of non-compliance.

Does the Software Vendor Offer Broader Risk Management Software Solutions?

It is not uncommon to encounter compliance management tools within a larger risk management software system. If your company does not currently have tools in place for risk management and mitigation, you may find it beneficial to opt for compliance software vendors who offer one of these more comprehensive solutions. This would allow your organization to manage compliance risks alongside other threats, such as cyber security threats, operational risks, and third-party risks.

Centralizing all of your risk management solutions in a single platform can be beneficial since it allows you to coordinate your risk management responses in a more thorough, complete manner. Conversely, a stand-alone compliance software solution may be a better fit if a more full-bodied platform has dozens of features that extend far beyond what you would ever actually use.

Considering the Compliance Software Vendor’s Longevity and Reputation

Compliance software has lots of “moving parts.” This genre of software requires a significant amount of ongoing support from a development perspective. Therefore, you want to be certain that you choose a vendor that is going to be around for a while to maintain the platform.

Perform research into the software vendor to determine how long they’ve been in business. Take some time to read reviews, ratings and perform research to get a feel for their general reputation. A compliance software platform is an investment and you want to feel confident that you are working with a reputable vendor that will be supporting their platform well into the future.

The right risk management and compliance software can bring tremendous benefits to an organization, but actually finding the right vendor can be a challenge. At iTech, our risk management and compliance specialists provide comprehensive and cost-effective risk management solutions to clients in all sectors and industries. Contact iTech today to discuss your compliance management strategy.