As you approach the end of your ERP project timeline, you should feel confident that you’re ready to go live. You shouldn’t have to scramble at the last minute to address an unforeseen issue.

However, many organizations do have last-minute issues. In fact, just before go-live, many organizations are horrified to discover that their IT systems aren’t compliant with digital security standards.

Discovering an IT compliance failure too late in the game can heap money, time, and frustration onto your project. In some cases, it could even derail it altogether. Today, we’re looking at how these failures happen. 

A Failed Payroll System Implementation

Panorama’s Expert Witness team was retained to provide a forensic analysis and written report to the court regarding the failed implementation of a major software developer’s ERP/payroll system.

What is IT Compliance?

In the simplest sense, IT compliance is the process of making sure that your systems (and the enterprise data they contain) are secure.

Before you go live, it’s critical to check that the processes these systems support align with the guidelines set forth by your industry’s regulatory bodies. Many of these guidelines are in place to ensure that only authorized users are allowed system access. This protects sensitive and confidential customer data, which is increasingly important as our digital devices become more connected. 

Guidelines often include both technical security standards (such as ISO), as well as industry-specific legal requirements (such as HIPPA). As such, failing to comply with these mandates can result in sky-high financial implications. In addition, it can also deliver a major hit to your company’s reputation. 

Before you move any further in your ERP implementation, it’s critical to make sure that all your team members, including your CIO and other tech executives, are fully aware of the regulatory components associated with the system, including data, privacy, and security.

How to Avoid IT Compliance Failure

1. Understand Which Regulations Apply​

There are many different IT compliance regulations. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about complying with every single one of them.

However, you do need to know which specific ones apply to your organization. This depends on the nature of your business, as well as the type of operations you conduct.

For instance, if your business operates with data obtained from anyone in the European Union (EU), you need to make sure you understand all the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) terms. 

Similarly, if you’re located in California or work with clients from California, you need to follow The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

While each compliance regulation has its own set of requirements, there are several common themes repeated in most of them:

  • System access and identity control
  • Data sharing controls
  • Disaster recovery procedures
  • Data loss prevention
  • Incident response
  • Malware protection
  • Corporate security
  • Data monitoring and reporting

2. Work With (Not Against) Your Auditor

An IT audit is often necessary to make sure your systems and workflows all align with industry security standards. It’s an auditor’s job to analyze your IT initiatives and ask questions about any discrepancies they find. 

When this process starts, your first instinct might be to get defensive. Yet, keep in mind that friction and resistance will only hurt your cause.

Instead, keep communication clear, open, and consistent. Listen to auditors’ feedback and collaborate with them to improve your approach to system security. 

Remember: These standards aren’t meant to punish you but to ensure data transparency and accountability. 

3. Set Clear Expectations​

An IT compliance checklist can have many moving parts, and it’s easy to assume that someone is taking care of a certain task, only to find that they assumed the same about someone else. 

We recommend defining exactly what your company needs to do to ensure compliance and outlining clear roles and responsibilities.

Then, plan for any potential risks that might lead to non-compliance. Will you address those gaps with a permanent bypass rule, or do you need to change your existing business processes to be compliant? 

Finally, assign each task to the appropriate team member, and make sure everyone is clear on what’s expected of them. 

4. Educate Your Team Members​

Sometimes, it can be difficult to motivate your project team to focus on IT compliance. They’re already stretched thin trying to get the ERP system implemented, so they can’t make sense of complex and intricate regulations. 

This is why compliance training is essential. Take the time to teach your team members about how each regulation works, why it’s important, and what changes are required to meet it.

At the end of the day, this is a cross-functional effort, and your project team should have the skills, knowledge, and experience required to complete it. 

5. Prioritize Data Security

Organizations that keep data security front and center will have an easier time adhering to IT compliance regulations.

We recommend establishing a security methodology that aligns with your business objectives, as well as those of your industry. As you do so, be sure to establish processes that are compliant, rather than rushing in the final hour to bend your processes to fit the mold.

Avoid an IT Compliance Failure

You’ve poured too much time, energy, and money into your enterprise software project only to see it result in an IT compliance failure.

With the right plan in place, you can avoid a non-compliance notice and keep your project on track. Our team of enterprise software consultants can help you develop a plan that ensures your software is functional, effective, and compliant. Contact us below for a free consultation. 

About the author

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As Director of Panorama’s Expert Witness Practice, Bill oversees all expert witness engagements. In addition, he concurrently provides oversight on a number of ERP selection and implementation projects for manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, and public sector clients.

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