In our time on the Product team at AuditBoard, we’ve worked with customers who have very diverse audit, risk, and compliance programs, but they all have something in common: every single one has an ecosystem of applications that work together in some form for the organization to manage risk. The extent to which those applications work together can vary, though, and that’s where integrations come into play. We see many approaches, from not leveraging any integrations to making use of multiple integrations that tightly weave experiences together across a variety of use cases.
Ultimately, we have found that there’s a simple question to answer: Do you want to run your audit, risk, and compliance programs in a silo? Or do you want to create transparency and collaboration to manage risk across your business in a central, accessible manner?
We believe integrations are critical to unlocking greater enterprise value in digital transformation, which is very relevant to any audit, risk, and compliance program. In this article, we’ll break down what integrations are and explore 5 ways that integrations improve business outcomes not only for you, but also for your business partners who touch audit, risk, and compliance processes.
What Is an Integration?
An integration connects two independent software systems and enables them to exchange information. We like to think of it as a bridge that connects two pieces of land separated by a body of water. You could choose to travel over the bridge, or you could take a potentially slower and more inefficient route.
In our experience, integrations can be very helpful in connecting systems, and thereby people and processes. We will explore how five top integration types — ease-of-use, communication, project management, content, and analytics — can transform your audit, risk, and compliance program in powerful ways.
5 Types of Integrations That Can Improve Business Outcomes
There are many different types of integrations that any organization can leverage. Given AuditBoard’s focus on audit, risk, and compliance users, we find that the most fruitful integrations relate to quickly getting necessary information, easily sharing information across teams, managing workloads across the teams, speeding up how content is created, and automating manual activities.
Customers leverage each of these types in differing amounts, and of course mileage will vary depending on your organization. Collaboration, time management, and scalability are essential to any organization’s growth, and that’s precisely the value these types of integrations deliver. Let’s look into each type more closely.
Type #1: Ease-of-Use Integrations
Ease-of-use integrations make it simple to complete specific actions within your current process flow. This type of integration cuts down access request issues, speeds up the evidence collection process, and reduces the number of applications you need to work in to complete a task. Some popular use cases for ease-of-use integrations that can drive additional value to your audit, risk, and compliance programs include:
- An integration that automates evidence collection by pulling data directly from your HR systems and feeding them into a centralized risk management platform. Automatically collecting evidence via pre-defined logic simplifies a complex and cumbersome process to save time and reduce errors that can occur when collecting evidence manually. We’ve yet to find a business partner who likes to provide audit evidence, so this integration is a powerful way to build trust with your counterparts.
- An integration that allows users to access multiple applications using single sign-on (SSO) so they don’t have to remember multiple sets of login credentials. This saves time and reduces the risk of password-related security breaches.
- Process-specific integrations that connect data across platforms. For example, allowing your team to view all files directly in one system regardless of where they are stored, rather than switching between platforms to access data. This type of integration provides better access to data and solves the inefficiency of navigating between multiple platforms and pages to accomplish a single task.
Type #2: Communication Integrations
Communication integrations automate the process of notifying stakeholders when a specific action is taken. Instead of logging into multiple applications to confirm if you have work to complete, or accidentally letting a request from a coworker go unanswered for weeks, you stay on top of your work through live and timely notifications. This type of integration also allows you to automatically remind your business partners when work is due, reducing administrative tasks.
For example, if one of your business partners needs to provide a piece of evidence by a certain date, you can send an automatic reminder ahead of the due date through your company’s chat tool, such as Slack. You don’t have to remember to remind your colleague, and your colleague doesn’t have to worry about forgetting. Automating messages eliminates the need to micromanage your stakeholders, allowing you to focus on more strategic tasks and achieve a game-changing increase in productivity.
Type #3: Project Management Integrations
Project management integrations delegate tasks to owners in their system of preference. This means you don’t need to provision access and train a team on a new application they rarely use, simplifying business processes and cutting down on application license requirements. Creating an efficient process that removes unwanted friction also boosts your credibility with your stakeholders.
For example, a company’s IT and other teams may work in Jira, while their audit, risk, and compliance team works in their system of preference, such as AuditBoard. If the audit team identifies a deficiency and creates an issue in AuditBoard, an integration with Jira enables a Jira ticket to be automatically created and sent to the owner, who responds to the ticket directly in Jira. Audit is then notified of the ticket completion and closes out the issue directly in AuditBoard. Both teams are happy because the integration permits them to perform their work using their standard tools and processes.
Type #4: Content Integrations
Content integrations allow you to receive automated framework updates (e.g., ISO, NIST, CMMC, etc.). For example, an integration with the Unified Compliance FrameworkⓇ (UCF) automatically imports frameworks in a compliance management platform so users can begin working from a known and well-understood framework definition with the latest requirements. Rather than spending time and resources identifying requirements and controls, checking their accuracy, and ensuring they are the latest standard, you can focus on the company’s compliance with the frameworks. This type of integration ensures that you’re complying with the latest framework versions, reducing the need for rework due to working with outdated data and allowing you to focus on compliance.
Type #5: Analytics Integrations
Analytics integrations allow you to expose data in your desired tools for a variety of purposes, depending on the type of data you expose.
You can leverage your audit, compliance, and risk data to build and manage reports and dashboards that represent activities across your program, including progress tracking, compliance health, risk scores, and many other interesting data pieces. It can be time-consuming and cumbersome to navigate between multiple platforms to capture different data points and piece together a cohesive story, and inconvenient to force your leadership team to interpret data using an unfamiliar platform.
Analytics integrations provide real-time dashboards and reports from data stored in a centralized location, enabling users to quickly identify trends and patterns in their audit, risk, and compliance data to make data-driven decisions. For example, you might push AuditBoard’s data to Tableau or Power BI to create a holistic view of your risk program and align your reporting process to your company’s cultural norms.
You can also use your evidence and support with analytics tools to process and automate assurance and testing procedures to efficiently identify issues in your overall compliance posture. This use case speaks to continuous monitoring and continuous assurance practices that enable large-scale organizations to efficiently assess risk and identify deficiencies.
Analytics integrations can be powerful value-add contributions to any program by providing a single source of truth as well as unifying approaches to analyzing data — enabling real-time visibility into your audit, risk, and compliance programs.
Integration Opportunities Are Everywhere!
Integrations offer numerous benefits that can improve your audit, risk, and compliance experience and working culture. To get started, review your audit and business ecosystem and look for opportunities for integrations to improve your company’s working culture, audit experience, and ability to do your jobs. By identifying where integrations can be inserted into your audit, risk, and compliance ecosystem, you can transform collaboration and communication, alleviate audit fatigue, and — dare we say — make audit, risk, and compliance fun.