Ways to Improve Information Security
These days, an increasing number of industries see their business’ standard operating procedures (SOPs) affected by strict regulatory commissions. These commissions and their compliance rules typically exist to protect the consumer and their personal data. For example, businesses in the healthcare industry must default to regulations laid out by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996.
No matter what industry your company may operate under, there’s a good chance that you must report at least one regulatory commission. From the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to the Consumer Product Safety Commissions (CPSC) and every regulatory body in between, the standards and rules set forth must not be taken lightly.
Oftentimes, these commissions have strict regulations regarding how customer/client data can be collected, stored, and retrieved. And businesses with unreliable or outdated document management methods may very well find themselves out-of-compliance.
If your business is struggling with regulatory compliance — especially related to document storage and document management — then it may be time to upgrade to a specialized document management software program. In doing so, you can improve overall information security and make staying in compliance easier. Meanwhile, your company may enjoy other benefits that include time/money savings and easier retrieval of documents.
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The Importance of Information Security and Regulatory Compliance
There’s really no overstating the importance of information security and regulatory compliance in any organization’s document management system. Unfortunately, when businesses rely on “traditional” methods of document storage (such as physical filing cabinets), there are many things that can go wrong from a security and compliance standpoint. Important forms and files can be misplaced — and sensitive client information can be compromised.
Unfortunately, when these kinds of mistakes occur, they tarnish the reputation of the organization and result in hefty fines and penalties from regulatory commissions. An audit may even need to be performed in some cases, which can tie up business operations and result in further fines or intervention.
How Document Management Software Improves Information Security and Compliance
Fortunately, there are many ways in which implementing the right document management solution can improve information security and make staying within regulatory compliance easier for businesses across all industries.
1. Automation of Document Storage Processes
Misplacing or losing a document can cost any organization a great deal of money. This is especially true if that form needs to be recreated, as this process can be time-consuming and costly. Meanwhile, if the form contained sensitive customer information, this can create a whole host of other problems.
With a document management program, document storage processes can be easily automated to cut down on the likelihood of important files and documents going “missing.” Meanwhile, features such as adding digital “tags” or “keywords” to files make searching and retrieval much easier. All of this cuts down on instances of documents going missing, which improves overall information security and may put organizations in a better place from a regulatory compliance standpoint.
2. Availability of Access Control Features
Another important security feature that many document management programs offer is that of customizable access control. With physical document storage, it can be difficult to control or mitigate what employees have access to which files. This may be especially true if these files are kept in a mostly public space, such as inside an office reception area.
With digital access control features offered by a document management program, managers can dictate exactly which employees have access to which documents through individual user accounts and passwords. Security here can be beefed up even further with the use of multi-factor authentication. All of this effectively keeps documents (and the sensitive information contained within them) more secure. Of course, periodically you should perform an access control compliance report to keep in check your access permissions.
3. Reliable Audit Trailing
Another feature that many document management solutions offer these days is audit trailing, which can come in handy if a regulatory commission audits a business. Specifically, audit trailing makes it easy to see a specific sequence of events for each document stored by the program. This makes it simple to track which users accessed the documents and at what times, how long they were accessing the document, and what changes (if any) were made.
All of this can come in handy in the event of an audit and may help organizations get through regulatory audits more easily.
4. Electronic Storage Backups
For an added layer of information security, the right document management software will also offer an electronic storage backup for all files within an organization. Oftentimes, these backups are stored in a third-party data center and on an entirely separate server. This way, even if the files on the primary server are compromised, there will always be a backup stored in another location, so the data is never completely lost.
Electronic storage backups provide organizations with a much greater sense of security and peace of mind. And, depending on the industry in which your business operates, there’s a chance that a regulatory board may require you to maintain data backups of certain files containing sensitive information.
What to Look For in Document Management Software
As you can see, there are several ways in which document management software can drastically improve information security and compliance across an organization. However, it’s important to understand that not all document management programs are created equal.
For the greatest security and easiest compliance, there are a few things businesses should look for in a document management solution. Some examples include:
- Automatic data backups
Customizable access control systems
- Easy automation
- Document access tracking
Likewise, choosing a solution that is designed to be user-friendly and intuitive can help businesses cut down on the “learning curve” required to begin using a new document management platform. This, in turn, can save businesses time and money when it comes to training. Still, it will be important for managers to set aside some dedicated time to train employees on a new platform and its uses regardless of how user-friendly the interface may be.
The Final Word on Document Management Software and Information Security/Compliance
Whether your business receives oversight from a major regulatory board or not, there’s no denying the importance of information security in today’s world. Your company simply cannot afford to make errors when it comes to its document management system. If you’re not using a document management software solution already, now is the time to explore your options and consider making the switch for the sake of your company’s reputation and information security.
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