Five Ways to Take Control of Internal Controls

“Managing” internal controls means more than just documentation and annual walkthroughs.  Controls are living processes—some automated by technology and others performed by human hands.  policyIQ does more than just capture the control documentation.  Are you taking advantage of all that policyIQ has to offer?

Managing Controls

If you are interested in learning more about the various ways that policyIQ can be used to manage controls, join us on January 14 at 1 PM ET (10 AM PT) for our upcoming CPE webinar, “Managing Controls in policyIQ: From Documentation to Control Performance”.  Click here to register today!

If you want to learn more right away, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at info@policyIQ.com or support@policyIQ.com.

Give Thanks!

It’s that time of year again—a time where we stuff ourselves with delicious foods, fall asleep on the couch, watch football all day and get up at a ridiculous hour to get the best deals on Black Friday! Yes, friends, it’s almost Thanksgiving here in the US.

More importantly, it’s a time when we give thanks for all that we have in our lives. At many dinner tables, friends and family members will go around the room and tell each other what they are thankful for. I thought it would be fun to ask my co-workers what they are most thankful for this year and wanted to share their answers with you!

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Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

“As the newest member of the policyIQ team, I am thankful for the office welcoming me and making me feel like a part of the team from the moment I got here!”

“I am thankful for the fact my girlfriend and I finally found a home and will be moving in soon!”

“I am thankful for great friends, family, and coworkers! I am grateful for good health and I am happy to keep learning new things every day.”

“I am thankful for my amazing support system of friends and family, coffee, my cats, my uniqueness, and my coworkers that, even on tough days, can make me laugh.”

“I am most thankful for a good joke, my wife (don’t know how she puts up with my shenanigans), paydays, health, co-workers that make you feel at home, my family and friends, and sunshine.”

“I am thankful for pets that get along extremely well, particularly Max (dog) and Bandit (ferret), Playstation 4 & Nintendo Switch, good music, weekends, family & friends, good health, and an amazing work environment & team.”

“I am most thankful for my daily Starbucks Trenta black iced coffee; last minute first class upgrades on cross-country flights; technology that allows me to keep in touch with friends around the world; empowered, curious, powerful nieces who unknowingly push me to be a better person; and working with a team and clients who make me want to come into the office every day!”

One of the things that I know all of my colleagues are thankful for, because we talk about it all the time, is having such awesome clients. I’m not kidding! We love the partnerships (and friendships) we’re able to build, and the wonderful feeling that comes from finding a solution that makes the lives of our clients just a little bit easier.

On that note, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the holiday with the people and things that matter the most!

Please feel free to share with us in the Comments what you are thankful for!

Gobble! Gobble!  thanks

Request, Route, Approve, Complete: Simplify any request process with policyIQ

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How many times a day does an email similar to the one above land in the inbox of someone you work with? Or maybe even your own.  How often do they fall through the cracks?  Often these simple requests are a critical part of the control environment, but the routing and tracking of the requests is not truly controlled.  Lost or delayed requests for critical processes, such as the legal document review above, can mean lost opportunities or compliance violations.

policyIQ can help – and you can start today.

Even those who are familiar with policyIQ’s electronic forms are sometimes unaware that these forms don’t have to be assigned to users. policyIQ forms can be used to allow an employee to initiate a request at any time.  (We refer to this as “Public Forms”, but you decide which employees actually have access to the forms.)

In the example above, the process might look something like this:

  • Sales Manager submits a Legal Document Review request via policyIQ.
  • Request gets routed directly to Legal, and because it was submitted as an “NDA Review”, it is placed in a queue for the paralegal support review.
  • The Paralegal checks his queue, which is sorted by the date “Needed By”.   This urgent request floats to the top.
  • The document is reviewed, comments are returned to the requestor, and the partnership can move forward!

How many routine requests could be better managed?

Legal document reviews are just one process that could be better managed in policyIQ’s public forms. Consider some of the following:

  • System Access Requests
  • Employee Time Off Requests
  • New System Feature Requests
  • Capital Expenditure Requests
  • Project Approval Requests
  • Proposal Assistance Requests
  • Technology Purchase Requests

You can set up your electronic form in just a few minutes. If you need some logic built into the approval routing, policyIQ rules allows you to determine where the request gets sent based on the inputs.

Want to get started? Contact us today, and we’ll help you get your first electronic form set up for free!  Or join us on Thursday, October 17th for our Feature Focus training session, in which we’ll go over how to utilize Public Forms in policyIQ.

Process + Technology = Effective Issue Management

Let’s face it—nothing is perfect.  Mistakes are made, processes are never fully optimized, and improvements can always be made.  All of those issues – big and small, critical and unimportant – mean risk or opportunity for your organization.

How are you managing those issues?  Do you have insight into the big picture? IssueMgt

Start with a consistent issue management process…

Having a consistent process in place to document and resolve issues throughout the company is a great first step.  Provide guidance, so that all departments and all projects use the same format for tracking, remediating, and resolving issues.  That process should include the following steps (although not always in this order):

  1. Document an issue as soon as it is identified in a central location.
    Emails are great, but having a standard location to enter an issue as soon as it is discovered is the key to full transparency.

  2. Assign the issue to the appropriate contact (or committee).
    Your process may have a central point of contact that reviews and assigns issues – or this may be built into the issue reporting process.  In either case, assignment to an individual or a specific committee is critical.  Issues will never be resolved if no one is accountable for them.  (That person may ultimately delegate or reassign the issue later, but assignment brings accountability.)

  3. Rate the risk or opportunity that the issue poses.
    Issues are not always about risk – sometimes an issue is simply the recognition that there’s an opportunity that could be addressed.  To determine the priority of addressing issues, each should be rated to understand the risk posed or the opportunity available.

  4. Determine if and how the issue will be resolved, and what the timeline should be.
    Will the issue be addressed?  Low risk/low opportunity issues may simply be put on hold or removed from the list, accepted as imperfections in the daily business. If the issue is to be addressed, document a plan and set a timeline.  The less urgent the issue and the farther out the timeline, the more general or vague the plan may be.  A “next step” should always be defined, even if that’s a plan to create a plan.

  5. Assign the remediation plan to the right individuals.
    For smaller organizations, it’s more likely that the original issue owner is also going to be the individual responsible for the remediation.  However, for large companies, issues may be owned by a division or department leader, while the remediation of the issue falls to someone on the front line of the organization.

  6. Regularly review the open issues and ensure that updates are documented.
    Ensure that open issues are reviewed regularly, and that progress is being made and documented.  If issues and remediation plans are never updated, the process will stop being effective.  If progress on an issue has stalled out, a regular review will highlight that challenge and allow it to be addressed.

  7. As remediation is completed, audit the process to ensure that the issue is resolved.
    The remediation plan may be marked complete, but has it really been fully implemented?  Was the remediation plan effective in addressing the issue?  Is there something more that must be done?

…and make sure you have technology in place to support it!

Consider the insight gained if you had a web application that allowed employees to report issues, issue owners to build remediation plans, and management teams to review the status of all issues across the company.

policyIQ is that application.

From a simple reporting mechanism to dashboards to track progress, policyIQ offers a technology platform that supports the issue management process.

Want to learn how?  Join us on October 22nd for a policyIQ training event, where we’ll focus on this issue management process – and how you can support all of the steps within the policyIQ application.

If you want to talk to us before October, we’re happy to connect with you to talk about issue management!  Contact us today.

 

IT Security Regulations, Frameworks, and policyIQ

Organizations all over the globe follow information technology and data security guidelines to meet regulatory requirements, improve processes, strengthen security, and achieve other business objectives.

These IT security frameworks give us a common language that can be used by:

  • Internal stakeholders to evaluate controls in place within their own organization.
  • External auditors to evaluate and attest to controls in place within an organization.
  • Third parties (potential customers, investors, etc.) to evaluate the potential risks of partnering with an organization.

Because information technology impacts every area within an organization, it only makes sense that IT compliance is a process that needs constant attention and monitoring. Choosing a framework, following a set ofIT.jpg standards, and having a comprehensive internal controls monitoring program in place help organizations meet the needs of their various stakeholders.

We recently took a deep dive into regulations and frameworks that impact IT security, in our July training session, IT Security Compliance in policyIQ.

Some questions addressed in our training were:

  • What is the difference between regulations and frameworks?
  • What are some of the most common regulations impacting IT security? What are some of the most common frameworks?
  • Where can I access IT security frameworks?
  • How can policyIQ help to manage the IT compliance program?

We invite you to listen for yourself and to reach out to us today to see how policyIQ could benefit your organization with IT compliance!

Is anything more critical than the security of your data?

The security of your data – and that of your customers – poses arguably the biggest risk to businesses today, and is, therefore, the most critical compliance initiative that your company will undertake.  The stakes are high and the regulatory requirements can be vast.  And as more companies outsource tasks and utilize cloud services and infrastructure, the ability to control all of the aspects of data security becomes more difficult.

With all of the risk and complexity inherent in data security, the technology that you use to keep track of your compliance efforts should be simple.

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policyIQ serves as a great case study for policyIQ!

The policyIQ application has clients around the world who rely on the software, the team that supports the software, and the infrastructure on which the software resides to keep their data safe.  And the security compliance program for policyIQ involves many of the same complexities that our clients are managing:

  • Risk inherent in the storage of our own data, and even more critically in the management of our clients’ data
  • Distributed responsibility for critical aspects of IT security
    • RGP, our corporate parent, is responsible for things like employee background checks and HR functions;
    • We utilize Amazon Web Services (AWS) as our hosting partner, and rely on their IT security program to provide physical and environmental security for our data center.
  • Multiple IT and data security requirements, including…
    • SOC 2
    • SOX
    • GDPR

To keep our own commitments to data security, we utilize policyIQ to capture our IT policies, controls, action items, and audit trails.

With our own implementation of policyIQ, we are able to follow the SOC 2 framework and link our controls to the related requirements.  Controls are designated as being performed by our policyIQ division, RGP Corporate, or our AWS partner, allowing any team member to more quickly reach the right resource with questions or clarifications.

When it comes time for an external security audit, we can prepare evidence in advance of the on-site audit based, pull out policy documents to meet the audit requests, and document any follow-ups or recommended action items provided by our auditors to further enhance our security program.

Join us on Monday, July 8th at 1 PM ET / 10 AM PT for our CPE event on IT Security Compliance in policyIQ, where we’ll dig deeper into policyIQ as a case study for policyIQ – and take a look at other frameworks and resources that your organization might utilize for your security compliance!

And look for more blog posts through the month of July that highlight IT and data security compliance in policyIQ.

Happy Memorial Day!

Wishing a beautiful Memorial Day weekend to all the friends of the policyIQ community! While we remember and honor those who have fallen in service to our country, we also thank those veterans and active service members for all that you have and continue to do for us.

Memorial Day_WP

The policyIQ Team

Are your contracts in order? Your time, reputation, and revenue are at stake.

When organizations think about governance, risk, and compliance initiatives, managing contracts is not typically the first thing they think about.  However a contract is, by its nature, a governance tool that is designed to mitigate risk.

In a recent webinar, we explored the challenges and risks of poor contract management, and outlined best practices for effective contract administration that can be implemented by organizations of any size.  Watch the recording of our webinar for the full story, or keep reading to see the highlights!

Do any of these sound familiar?

Whether we are helping organizations manage contracts from the buy side (contracts with vendors or suppliers) or from the sell side (contracts with their customers), there are some common challenges that organizations face.  Do any of these sound familiar?

  • We waste a lot of time tracking down contracts when we need them.
  • Contracts have renewed automatically before we had a chance to renegotiate the terms.
  • We received an invoice for a service that we weren’t using, but the contract continued to auto-renew.
  • We have been in non-compliance with a client contract due to a lack of communication around non-standard terms.
  • Our company has multiple service providers for similar services, because we were not aware of all of our existing contracts.
  • It seems like we’re always wasting time trying to remember who has to approve what and when.

 

timemoneyreputation2

What’s at risk with poor contract management?

Managing contracts well is good business.  Poor contract administration wastes time, damages your reputation, and impacts your bottom line.

Simply put:  Your time, reputation and money are at risk.

 

Seven contract management best practices for any size organization

Good contract management involves people, processes and technology – and we’ve outlined seven best practices that require all three.  The best practices below can be implemented by companies of any size – and policyIQ’s GRC platform can provide the technology you need!

goodcontractmanagement

  1. Central Repository
    Identify or procure a central location that can be accessed by the right people at the right time.  Cloud-based solutions are a great choice, as they offer accessibility from any location on a 24/7 schedule.
  2. Define & Capture Meta Data
    Identify key data, and capture those details within your repository.  Expiration or renewal dates, contract value, contact information, and details about non-standard terms can all be critical data points that will feed into…
  3. Key Reports & Metrics
    Use that meta data to create key reports and metrics that drive your business decisions.  When evaluating contract administration systems, validate your ability to customize the data captured, as well as the flexibility of reporting on that data.
  4. Robust Search
    Your central repository should provide a robust search, so that you can find contracts by key word or phrase, searching through all contract documents.
  5. Identify Contract Owner (outside of procurement!)
    Most organizations identify a contract owner, but often the internal contact is not the business user of the product or service.  Clearly identify, and maintain, the contact person for every vendor or supplier contract – and ensure that the contact knows and understands how those products or services are being used.
  6. Alerts and Reminders
    Don’t miss a deadline or allow a contract to renew without notification.  Be sure that you can set up alerts – via email or regular reporting – to let the right individuals know when contracts are up for review.
  7. Clear Procedures
    All of the technology in world is only as good as the procedures that are designed to ensure that it is used properly.  Create procedures that instruct your employees on the who, what and where of contract management – and keep that documentation accessible.

 

policyIQ can help!

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Would you like to improve your contract management process to decrease risk?  Contact us today, and we’ll be happy to help you lay out a plan for the people, process, and – our specialty – the technology you need!

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: heavy GRC technology.

RGP’s policyIQ team is seeing a lot of movement in the governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) technology market. Organizations are complaining of complex tools that are difficult and time consuming to implement. Many have expressed frustration and regret after investing several months—years, even—and tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars into the implementation of GRC platforms only to find they were still not producing the promised benefits. They struggled with finding the right time to cut the cord. Others tell tales of the constant perks in the flashy sales and marketing process that ended in crickets after they signed the dotted line—there was very little support to help them make the application do what they expected it to do. Some companies got up and running in a tool and later found it was very cumbersome to manage as business needs evolved.

Are you wrestling with heavy, cumbersome GRC Technology?

Many compliance officers, auditors, controllers, and IT directors have stories about how long they have tried to hang on and make it work.

It’s time.

It’s okay to say it out loud. There are other options that are easy to configure and customize for your team’s specific needs that don’t break the bank. Clients have raved about the flexibility of policyIQ and their ability to make adjustments in just a few moments when the business, market, or regulatory bodies call for it. They have praised the speed of deployment of policyIQ and return on investment that they observed almost immediately through improved effectiveness in meeting their objectives.

We understand if you’re feeling a little skeptical…

…after what you’ve experienced. Let us show you! We offer a 30-day free trial and are happy to show you YOUR data in the trial site as proof of concept before you buy.  You can spend time kicking the tires, so to speak, and working with your implementation expert and the policyIQ Support team.

P.S. The policyIQ Support team will be by your side for the long haul! We enjoy reviewing our team’s interactions with clients—we are prepared to tackle your tough business questions, to help you expand or adjust as needed, and we can’t help but celebrate the friendships we make serving our clients over time.

We are excited to partner with you, too! Contact us to start your free trial.

1 in 3 do not have a plan!

The policyIQ team recently hosted a webinar presented by GRC analyst, Michael Rasmussen, focused on how to drive employee engagement through effective policy management and communication. During the session, we asked the audience: “Does your organization have a policy communication plan?” Remarkably, one in three respondents answered, “no”.

In recent posts, we have drawn attention to the potential hazards of NOT keeping your employees informed, trained, and certified. No doubt, some companies have learned a multi-million-dollar lesson on why it is important to build out a policy communication plan. In case your organization can relate to the third of respondents who identified with not having a formal plan, we want to share some ideas on how you can get started crafting your plan and reducing legal exposure right away.

What is the risk?

1 in 3 respondents reported not having a formal policy communication plan in place.

Are you having a hard time figuring out how to prioritize your policy updates? Consider, first, how your policies are related to your risk environment and what practices you must have in place to protect the organization from the top down. Next, you may wish to focus on the policies and procedures that you have in place to safeguard your organization: security policies and procedures. The next area in need of attention, depending on your type of organization, may be documentation related to ensuring that product, process, or service quality is delivered. If you have a quality system in place, you likely already have associated documentation on a regular cadence of review.

How will you know that all of these practices are actually taking place and operating as designed? You could also prioritize the documentation and routine practice of monitoring, from an operations and financial perspective. Auditing your business and finance functions will go a long way to provide assurance that you have the right practices in place.  

Can your organization provide evidence that your house is in order?

Who is the audience?

Retail store managers, truck drivers, accounting and finance personnel, nurses, IT project managers—there is a seemingly infinite list of roles in the pool of potential policy and procedure audience members. Rather than drafting policies and simply publishing them for broad access or distribution on the company’s intranet, you may want to take a step back and consider more closely, again, the level of risk associated with the documentation. Starting with your areas of greatest exposure, which of your employee roles would be impacted by the absence of the policy or documentation? Pay particular attention to those roles that are directly tied to your high-risk areas and critical controls.

How will you reach them?

The question, here, may be two-fold: What level of assurance does the situation demand? What media is most accessible to the audience?

Policies related to hours-of-service limits for truck drivers and anti-bribery policies for employees working in high-risk geographies may be among your top priorities as it relates to communicating your organization’s values and practices, but they certainly do not have the same work environment or access to information. An important step in your communication plan is the consideration of the level of assurance that the situation demands. Simply publishing some policies may be enough, but for others, it will be critical that you capture a receipt of your employees’ review, their attestation that they understand and agree to follow your policies, and some may warrant training and certification evidencing the employees’ understanding of the critical values and practices.

Can your training materials for efficient and repeatable distribution when possible, but be sure to bring employees in for training on values and practices that are mission critical.

If you want to better ensure engagement by your employees, you may also wish to consider whether the content requires live and in-person training or if delivery to your employees’ mobile devices will be satisfactory. Getting into the flow of what your employees do and see every day is the best way to boost the likelihood that they will see and interact with your content.

Next steps:

RGP’s own policyIQ is an easy to setup and use SaaS platform that can be leveraged to author, manage and share policies, procedures, links to training materials, certifications, and other related documentation on an employee’s device-of-choice. Click here to learn more about our policy management solution or reach out to us, directly! We are happy to help you see your data in a free policyIQ trial site.

And if all of this still feels like a lot to consider, you may wish to reduce your organization’s exposure sooner than later by bringing in a subject matter expert to spearhead the effort. RGP’s professional consultants can help to assess your organization’s documentation and lead the effort to map out and implement the execution of your policy management program and communication plan. Click here to be put in touch with an expert in your area.


Again, special thanks to GRC 20/20’s Michael Rasmussen for sharing his expertise with our audience (and us, too!). If you are interested in learning more from Mr. Rasmussen, we encourage you to check out his website and, specifically, his “Policy Management by Design” white paper.