“Audit-you … I am here with the Audit team, here is a list of documents we need to get us started, more requests to come. Do you have coffee?”
Sound familiar? If not, it will soon enough.
Whether from something as universal as an “I-9 Audit” stemming from the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), or industry-specific compliance laws for entities operating under SEC, HIPAA, FDA, FCC, DOT, SOX legislation, that fact is that all industries have growing compliance burdens that increases exposure to scheduled and unscheduled audits. Period.
Interestingly, the word “audit” is both a noun – A methodical, independent examination and review, and a verb – the actions taken to respond, engage and complete (an audit). Thus, for organizations to truly be audit-ready they must have both well-defined audit-ready policies AND the tools and processes integrated into daily operations.
What does “audit ready” really mean? Just that — an audit-ready business can respond to an audit process easily and quickly, providing requested information and confirmations with minimal disruption. This is simply not possible without an intentional mindset and discipline starting at the top – audit-readiness is not an accident.
How important are documents when it comes to audit-readiness?
Given that, on average, 80 percent of information is trapped in digital and paper documents, an organization’s document management strategy, tools, and process competencies are key indicators for both compliance risk position and audit-readiness. Are your documents scattered across local drives, cloud sharing sites, network shares, mobile devices and filing cabinets? If increasing your audit-readiness is important to you – here are some points to consider:
1. Assemble the Right Team
Audit readiness is a journey and the sum of many, many parts that, in the end, empower an organization to breeze through audits with confidence. Best practices have shown that stakeholders should be a part of the team with varying levels of participation and on-going efforts include:
- Lead Counsel
- Department Managers
A document records compliance and audit-readiness committee with roles as outlined above and who work to define the strategy, tools, process and roadmap to get there will set the stage for success. In the end, the buy-in is critical and never forget that even incremental improvements can dramatically reduce risk exposure in some cases.
2. Not All Documents Are Created Equal
An important part of building an overall compliance and audit-readiness model is taking a census of all the documents generated and received across the organization with important properties that include:
- Type and volume
- Processes support
- Key relevant law and processes
- Protected information
- Audit importance
- Enforcement of retention schedules enforced
The document profile and sample responses are shown for illustration only – the point is ultimately rank-order the documents that represent high-value targets from an audit perspective. Internal memos about the holiday partner and employee contracts are not equals. Prioritize and focus on the most important areas of your business and expand from there.
3. Begin with the End In Mind
This Dr. Stephen R. Covey guidance can be very useful in the content of getting started in this journey. Fast-forward to your next audit – what document management capabilities will make it a breeze?
- Flexible document search capabilities make it easy to find and present requested records
- Comprehensive security features make it easy to confirm both document integrity and information access is restricted in accordance with relevant laws – i.e. health record documents are not sitting in an unlocked warehouse
- Records retention policies are automatically applied with real-time reporting capabilities to show you are current
- Audit information is available to show a document’s history including any dissemination – who has looked at it? When did it come in? From who? Has it been printed? Who printed it? Was the protected information on the document redacted as required by law?
- Exception reporting – does your document management platform automatically monitor and report both missing documents and track document expiration date(s)?
If these capabilities and abilities are missing from your current status, use them as a guide to make changes and acquire new capabilities to address. Best-practice document management platforms like the IntelliCloud Document Management Platform (DMP) provide these capabilities out-of-the-box in a cloud-based platform with advanced compliance and audit-reporting features like AuditShieldTM and more.
Be Ready When the Knock Comes
For the last two decades, Intellinetics has been mission-critical document management capabilities to empower users to always be “Knock-ready” when it comes to document audits. IntelliCloud DMP provides the tools needed to audit-enable your organization easily and quickly for peace of mind. Contact us today to start a conversation about how we can help.