Mastering the Audit: Does Your Document Storage Measure Up?

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On January 8th, 2013 the American Action Forum published a study outlining that the total regulatory burden placed on the US economy in 2013 by governmental regulators amounted to $112 Billion. OIRA, The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, then translated this number into the number of hour’s US workers spent processing the regulatory paperwork – 157 million hours. From there, one can only assume how the number of trees 157 million man hours of paperwork scarified. Regardless, the large regulatory burden on US workers is not surprising as most industries have seen increased regulatory compliance under the Obama Administration. Increased regulation tends to translate to increased scrutiny in compliance measures, making audits even more powerful tools for organizations.

As soon as the word audit is mentioned however, a sense of anxiety and negativity typically overcomes the receiver. It’s the dentist of the business world; it serves a non-value producing activity within the organization yet necessary role that brings forth a feeling of nails on a chalkboard. Why do audits typically produce such negative imagery? One word comes to mind – Exposure. The whole purpose of an audit is to protect your future interests by assessing key areas of improvement within your organization. It’s a lot like going to the dentist to measure how well you really did brush your teeth last year. It’s peeling back the layers of your organization to identify risks and analyze efficiency; it’s taking a moment to stare at your faults head on and take corrective action. Why should it be such a negative experience?

Contracts Management Software; Policy and Procedure Management Software; SharePoint Consultants

How Can You Ensure a Successful Audit?

By following a few key considerations such as creating a paperless system and designing a versioning process, organizations can take the stress out of the process and streamline their data management. To begin, an organization must consider where it is currently storing its regulatory documents and in what format. Previously, the status quo for document storage was a large physical storage facility, usually offsite, which held 10+ years of records. Organizations had records administrators who were in charge of indexing the paperwork, creating a system for document requests, and then physically pulling the records upon request. The physical nature of document management led to issues like documents that would be pulled and never returned, and information that would go missing or be accidentally destroyed without a secondary backup. Companies were paying top dollar for non-value creating buildings, employees, and materials that were highly inefficient.

Technological advances then started moving companies from costly paper systems to paperless systems, but this status quo led to companies sharing documents over shared drives, email systems, and intranets. The problems of physical storage may have been addressed, but these solutions created new concerns with collaboration, version histories, and sensitive data storage. Documents were present and searchable, but they were often unclear in which document was the most current version, which employee had the document, or what changes were being made. Policies and procedures were distributed to employees over emails, and there was no accountability to ensure that the employees did in fact read the material or agree to abide by the material unless they signed a paper document. This led to companies using paper documents to keep track of paperless policies, and admins had to physically track compliance measures. Document management was somewhat more streamlined, but the auditing process was still a nightmare.

Increases in regulation and compliance concerns have led to the next evolutionary step in document processing and management. Companies are starting to realize the metadata associated to their documents is becoming just as important as the documents themselves. We have seen and been a part of the huge shift to central document repositories and streamlined requests processes that provide access to metadata, version histories, and a place for document discussions. These central repositories have made it simple to tell when documents are missing, what is the latest version, and who was a part of each step of the creation process.

ConvergePoint Exercises Best Practices in Document and Process Management

This is how ConvergePoint began “ on the premise that the current solutions for document management were labor intensive and inefficient; we wanted to simplify the process. We offer four products that expand on your existing SharePoint 2010 or 2013 Platform that utilize your active directories and document library to organize document processes and storage. For example, our Contracts Management System streamlines the request process and creates an active distribution site for all active contracts. It keeps a version history with a comments board so you can see exactly how a contract evolved during its creation process, and protect yourself in the case of legal proceedings.

Our Policy Management System streamlines the creation and approval process of policies and procedures, provides automatic distribution to your employees, and provides a way to certify that your employees agreed to abide by the policy. We’ve taken these labor intensive processes out of the IT department, streamlined their application, and put them in the control of the departments that are actually creating the documentation. Our clients have seen a generous ROI in terms of document auditing transparency, reduced labor and paper costs, and letting IT focus on what they do best.

Take the negativity out of the audit and streamline your document processes, let ConvergePoint’s Policy Management Software and Contract Management Software Solutions organize the structure of your compliance efforts. Contact one of our SharePoint Consultants today at 888-484-8048 or schedule a demo here to see how ConvergePoint can address your compliance needs.

Request a Policy and Procedure Management Software Demo by ConvergePoint

Also Related From Our Blog: Key Elements of an Effective Compliance Program and 2014: Tipping Point for the Enterprise Workspace

Reference: A Regulatory Flurry: The Year In Regulation, 2013 by The American Action Forum

Reference: Daily Tally by The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net