Why Technology is Key to Your Compliance Reporting

Whether you’re a shrimp importer tracking the temperature of shipped shrimp, a nonprofit using state or federal grant funds or a healthcare professional protecting patients, it’s likely you are required to meet compliancy regulations. This, in turn, necessitates a robust compliance management plan.

It’s not enough to track compliance, you also have to be able to collect, secure and report information to regulatory entities. Tracking compliancy is particularly difficult and would be almost impossible without technology as a key tool in successfully meeting regulations.

Just like you need a CPA for tax services or an attorney for legal advice, you need a third-party IT consultant who understands how compliancy relates to your technology environment. Integrating compliancy software and specific security practices into your day-to-day operations is crucial to reporting data accurately to governing agencies. In fact, securing data is the primary objective of many compliancy laws. Compliance auditors must see evidence that policies, procedures and practices have been implemented to secure the data required by compliance guidelines.

When looking for an IT partner to manage the technology aspects of your compliancy plan, make sure they have experience and expertise in the following areas.

4 Compliance Objectives Your IT Partner Should Manage

  1. Control of your environment
    Most compliance laws require organizations to have a process to plan and manage IT risk. As a third-party provider, your IT managed service provider must also meet standards set forth by the regulator. In fact, many times a third-party IT service is required by an audit.
  • Develop strategic plan for IT plans and priorities
  • Regularly evaluate IT risks and address any risks identified
  1. Data center and backups
    An appropriate, reliable data backup and recovery processes must be part of your strategic plan. Data and file server backups are performed – and tested – to minimize the risk of lost or corrupted data. Backups should only be accessible by authorized personnel and this practice needs to be documented.
  • Provide logs and snapshots of backup intervals
  • Ensure parties that house backups have proper controls in place
  1. Information cybersecurity
    Software, data and equipment are safeguarded to prevent unauthorized access. This includes securing email, files and network information while physically protecting server rooms, offline data storage and hardware.Many compliance regulations place a high emphasis on this area as non-compliancy potentially affects many people through loss of personal information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers and health information. Information security reaps a high number of legal infractions and fines.
  • Develop and implement information security policies
  • Document employee changes including processes for removing and issuing user accounts
  • Proof of IT password policies and practices being followed
  • Inventory of security controls in place such as firewalls, routers, intrusions detectors, etc.
  • Conduct vulnerability assessments
  1. Change management
    A centralized change tracking system ensures that any organizational application, database and operating system changes have been approved and are being managed in conjunction with compliance regulations.
  • Formalize policies to manage changes
  • Maintain a list of system changes
  • Provide supporting documents to prove system changes have been authorized

As your company’s Chief Information Officer, DiamondIT is your partner in meeting compliancy tracking, remediation and maintenance requirements. Don’t let industry or governmental regulations stand in your way of success. Our team is ready to help – Contact us online or call 877-716-8324.

4 Reasons to Include IT in Your Compliance Management Process

Regardless of the industry you’re in, most businesses have regulations and requirements they have to abide by, making compliance an essential part of being successful.

The cost of maintaining compliance

The cost of regulatory compliance averages $12,000 a year for most small businesses, says the National Small Business Association. For new businesses, direct and indirect costs to stay compliant in the first year top $80,000.

Of course, the cost of non-compliance can be much steeper. HIPAA violations range between $100 to $50,000 per violation or record with a maximum penalty of $1.5 million per year, and Sarbanes Oxley fines are up to $5 million and 20 years in jail. Regardless of the monetary cost of non-compliance, loss of production and reputation may take a higher toll on your business.

The rules that regulate your regulation

From Food and Drug Administration and the SEC to OSHA regulations, businesses ranging from healthcare, finance, agriculture and energy face complicated rules – and the number of rules are ever-increasing. In 1960, the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations was about 20,000 pages; today, it has over 185,000 pages – an 825 percent increase!

Tracking is an important component of managing compliance. Whether you’re an importer needing to trace your product from point-of-origin to point-of-sale or an oil producer tracking equipment parts from the manufacturer, the success of your business (and, often, the safety of your customers and employees) are dependent upon your ability to meet tracking requirements.

The sheer complexity of being compliant makes it necessary to use technology to meet requirements.

As with many government programs, compliance programs tend to be complicated and time consuming. Integrating compliance tracking into your culture is not as simple as reaching out to colleagues to borrow a spreadsheet. An experienced, professional IT managed services provider is the best resource for implementing a seamless, automatic tracking system into your regular operations and existing technology.

As your personal Chief Information Officer, DiamondIT helps you manage compliance tracking projects:

  1. Help evaluate and select the best software for compliance tracking
    New software can be problematic if your IT provider hasn’t inspected it to make sure it will work with your existing resources and to assure that it does what it says it will do. DiamondIT works with you to evaluate the software that will work for your current systems.
  1. Ensures hardware requirements are in place
    New software may have different hosting requirements than you have in place. DiamondIT ensures that your new software is compatible with your hardware.
  1. Advises on ways to integrate the app into your day-to-day operations
    Don’t make the mistake of purchasing software without knowing whether or not it will integrate into your operations. Software vendors often don’t look past their own apps to see if the new app will integrate with your existing infrastructure.
  1. Monitors your system
    Lapses in compliance tracking can lead to messy audits when the government comes calling to inspect your compliance management. An MSP monitors your systems to ensure your software is up-to-date and functioning optimally.

Don’t end up with a compliance tracking system that fails to meet your needs. Let Diamond IT help you address your compliance needs so they are effective and fit into your current technology environment.

4 Ways the Cloud Can Help Budget for Growth

Cloud BudgetToday’s businesses are expected to forecast the future almost regularly. You may have a company that is growing rapidly and need to determine how much infrastructure you should implement today to last the next three years. Conditions can change, you can over buy or under purchase, and budget deadlines are quickly approaching.

Do you have a reliable methodology to determine what your headcount and resource needs will be 3 or 5 years from now? How much downtime do you really have and what is it costing you?

Product lifecycles are changing and organizations are at a crossroads on whether to move to the Cloud. With its inherent scalability, predicting your resource needs adequately is easier and can help you remain competitive in the market. An experienced managed Cloud provider brings a proactive viewpoint that looks at your growth goals and recommends adjustments to scale up or down accordingly.

Below are four ways the Cloud can help you budget for growth:

Lessons For Financial Service Firms About Network Security and Privacy Laws in 2016

5-3Let’s say you’ve taken your financial services employees out on a work retreat. Looking for activity ideas that might increase your team’s chemistry, your eye falls to bungee jumping. When the nine of you arrive at the place, you’re presented with a waiver stating that you understand the risks and the fact that there’s a four out of nine chance that the line snaps. Of course, you don’t sign it. All of you high-tail it out of there and find the nearest mini-golf place. I, for one, wouldn’t be comfortable with 100 to one odds of an equipment failure, let alone five to four.

Did you know, though, that those are the same odds your office faces every day when it comes to a significant data security failure? It’s true: 41% of financial service organizations experience a data breach or fail a compliance audit. With such a high likelihood of your group confronting data security issues, you need to do everything you can to ensure all your ducks are in a row.

So how do you get from A to B? What are the companies in the 59% that haven’t been breached or failed compliance tests doing that the 41% aren’t? Well, some are just plain lucky. Others, though, laid down the groundwork and invested in strong security technology and personnel. They may have implemented routing security audits, established secure firewall protections, practiced proper encryption for their laptop and cloud data, or all three.

How a Customized Cloud Migration Enhanced an Encino CPA Firm’s Network Security

DiamondIT Cloud“They never tried to upsell us … they looked for solutions for us, not profits for them.” The good people of Charles, Blank & Karp (CBK), a CPA firm in Encino, needed a solution to their looming IT woes. Their file server, a 2002 vintage that held clients’ most critical documents, was showing signs that it was not long for this world. When the firm’s leaders pow-wowed about how they might go forward, they talked about just getting another server. Only when they started bringing up all of the security considerations involved did they come to the conclusion that the cloud was the solution.

Like all of our clients, Jim Karp (the firm’s managing partner and CPA) found our customized approach to outfitting his firm to be a breath of fresh air. “We’re numbers people,” he says. “We live in numbers; we work with numbers; we love numbers. We also like helping people, so it’s sort of like the best of both worlds.” In that sense, accounting and IT go hand-in-hand. Behind the formulas and cold hard facts, there are people trusting in and relying on you.

How Some CPA Firms Are Quietly Maximizing Billable Hours Using Cloud Technology

Cloud technologyWhile I was an executive at a regional branch of a CPA firm, I worked with a lot of like-minded people and really learned how they tick. The CPAs and other professionals I worked with were great at keeping current in their industry and at protecting client information. After all, tax laws change regularly, and confidentiality is paramount.

But there was something they weren’t great at — CPAs, I learned, as a rule of thumb, are terrible at capturing their time. They’ll work hard with a client, only to either forget or underreport their times, costing the firm in billing revenue. Why does this happen? Isn’t optimizing billing a no-brainer?

The reason this happens is that your technology may be holding you (and your CPAs) back because CPAs meet with clients and then must wait until they get back to their desktop to log times. A cloud solution that allows for mobile time logging helps ensure that you get every dollar that you earn. We’re accountants after all — we should account for every hour!

Asset Management Firms Need a Secure Network to Gain Confidence from Clients

network security it solutionsWould you ever share your financial clients’ account access with a stranger? What about storing their documents on a table in the public library? Of course not. Safeguarding account information from unauthorized access in asset management is paramount. However, if you have weak IT security, that access is surprisingly easy to gain. And if you don’t have a secure data backup, your files could disappear or be corrupted just as readily as if a class of 2nd graders was set loose in that library to wreak havoc.

Exchange Rates: Getting the Most Out of Hosted Exchange in the Financial Services Sector

i-Professional-ServicesA tax return is due. A consultation is delayed. A key piece of market information needs to be shared with your entire team. How are you managing all of that activity? If you are counting on assistants or staff members (or yourself) to keep the trains running on time, then you should be excited to learn there is a better way to manage your financial services organization. With hosted Exchange, you can have full calendaring, task management, and email all in one powerful system. In doing so, you’ll increase accessibility without sacrificing control or security. That sounds pretty appealing to most of our clients in your fast-paced environment, where large sums of money can be made—or lost—at a moment’s notice.

Fortifying Your Financial Organization: 5 Things a Network Assessment Should Uncover

i-Network-AssessmentWe recently worked with a bookkeeping firm in Central California that called us after a weekend attack. A hacker had gained access to the network and downloaded some private company data. Their problem was one we see all too often; not only were they trying to recover from the event, they were left asking how it happened in the first place. “What do we do now?” was their primary question. Our answer was simple: let’s evaluate your network, make it stronger, and work to never let this happen again. Thankfully there was no permanent damage done, and client information was not compromised. But they wisely recognized that it was just a matter of time until this happened again if they left their network unprotected. Our team quickly got to work.