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Setting Up a Strong Foundation for Company-Wide Compliance

By: Blair Felter on May 21, 2021

Think of establishing company-wide data center security and compliance as if you were building a house. Before you start to think about hanging up artwork or moving in furniture, you need to have a solid foundation in place. Similarly, before your company makes significant internal changes to a department or integrates new technologies, you need to ensure you have a solid compliance foundation in place that facilitates the addition of new technologies, policies, and procedures.

Whatever department you work in, whether it be marketing, finances, or operations, compliance is critical to every employee. Keeping data and information assets secure requires cross-departmental support, which means adhering to compliance rules and regulations requires a group effort and ongoing maintenance.

If you work for a large company, the thought of establishing company-wide compliance may seem daunting. Luckily, vXchnge is here to outline the steps you need to take in order to ensure all departments are aligned when it comes to data center security and compliance.

Align Your Departments

Before you can begin to implement compliance software and establish compliance standards for your company, you need to achieve inter-departmental alignment. In order for employees to take compliance seriously and adhere to the policies and procedures in place, they need to understand the importance of compliance when it comes to the company’s performance. 

Assemble key leaders from each department within your company to discuss how compliance affects each of their teams, and ensure each department head leaves the meeting with a clear sense of what’s needed from them.

Once you’ve ensured all departments are on the same page in terms of the importance of compliance, it’s time to build an Information Security Management System (ISMS) team. This team is responsible for compiling policies, procedures, and processes that every key department uses on a regular basis. 

Every department publishes different policies, and has different procedures that their employees follow. Understanding the varying policies and procedures across your entire organization is critical to building an effective company-wide compliance system.

Building Your Compliance System

Information Security

Once you’ve compiled all relevant information pertaining to the varying policies and procedures across all in-scope departments, you can start to think about how to build your compliance system. While the makeup of your company’s compliance system will depend on the industry you work in, information security is likely critical to the success and stability of your business.

ISO 27001 is widely recognized as the international standard for effectively managing information security. Intended to enable organizations to properly secure their information assets, ISO 27001 outlines the requirements for establishing, maintaining, and continually improving your ISMS. Following a successful audit, businesses can be certified as being ISO compliant. 

This certification not only serves as the bedrock foundation from which you can layer other compliance standards on top of, but it also demonstrates to your vendors and customers that you’re committed to their security and peace of mind. With a solid foundation in place that demonstrates your compliance with standard policies and procedures, you’ll then be able to add on additional compliance standards that are industry-specific and pertain directly to your business.  

Documentation

In order to become ISO certified, you’ll have to prove to a third-party auditor that you’re actually adhering to the policies, processes, and procedures you’re claiming to comply with. This makes documenting all aspects of your compliance system an absolute must. Not only does compliance documentation help you provide evidence to third-party auditors, but it also ensures you can hold all departments accountable when it comes to their compliance standards.

Building accountability into your compliance system means communicating to employees the potential negative consequences of not adhering to compliance guidelines and protocols. It also requires you to document employee acknowledgments of any and all compliance training they receive.

Implementing a policy management software can also help automate the tedious aspects of policy documentation and allow you to store all relevant documentation in a centralized location. When it comes time for a compliance audit, you’ll be thankful to have all of your compliance documentation securely stored and easily accessible.

Ensure Ongoing Maintenance

Once your compliance system is up and running, the work doesn’t stop there. As policies and procedures are reviewed and updated over time, your compliance system needs to be adaptable. Again, starting from a solid compliance foundation will ensure your system is able to easily accommodate changes to your processes. 

Additionally, the ongoing assessment and maintenance of your compliance system ensures you’re staying up-to-date with the latest compliance requirements and standards. At the very least, departments should review their compliance processes once a year and provide updates if anything needs to be adjusted. 

Maintaining the effectiveness of your compliance program requires the active participation of all in-scope departments, which is why communicating from the on-set the program’s importance and relevance to all employees is a crucial first step.

Create Your Effective Compliance Program

Ultimately, the success of your data center security and compliance program will depend on concise and clear communication between you and all employees. Explaining the benefits of a compliance program (as well as the consequences of not having one), and what’s expected of them will ensure everyone buys into the program.

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