In part 2 of this blog series, we discussed two shortcomings of homegrown NERC compliance systems: their limited capabilities for proper task management and inability to track & measure the effectiveness of your compliance program.
The shortcomings don’t stop there. Let us dive a little deeper into 2 other areas.
Building and maintaining a NERC-aware homegrown system, one that can support all the finer nuances of the Compliance team needs, requires a whole other level of resource expertise and investment. Some of the key requirements that need to be met are:
- NERC-specific business process – leveraging industry best practices with the flexibility to modify process to meet your specific needs, today and in the future.
- Data collection models that provide seamless data sharing and processing between the compliance application and commonly used applications like ERP and asset management systems
- Automated way to update all standards and requirements when NERC makes changes
- Associate data, metadata, and documents with the right standards and requirements, which empowers your compliance team to quickly and accurately generate an RSAW audit, self-report and self-certification packages on-demand
- Document repository features including security, versioning and tagging make it easy for authorized personnel to create data requests packages.
Easily Updated Compliance Management Solution
Maintaining NERC CIP compliance is an ongoing challenge. Audit-readiness isn’t a one-and-done activity, it’s something that you must operationalize through continuous processes and improvements, every day, every month, and every year. This would be true, even if NERC standards and requirements stayed the same – you still need to keep up with changes within your own organization – but of course, they don’t.
NERC regulations change constantly, and it’s your responsibility to change with them. Let’s say you’re using a home-brewed compliance management solution. You have it configured to your processes with Task Management and policies in place. You’ve magically overcome all the challenges we’ve listed above and it’s all working smoothly as it should – and then NERC makes a bunch of changes. Now what?
It would be time to get on the phone with your internal development team or external development resources. You would have to get into their queue (never short) and often incur costs that were not part of your compliance management budget. You don’t have a choice – you need to comply with the new standards – but waiting and paying for the changes isn’t exactly fun.
With SigmaFlow, you can make changes to your program without the need for IT and/or development resources. That means you can quickly adapt to changes like new job functions, new work items, new due dates, etc. and deploy them all quickly to remain compliant. You can make a wide variety of updates to NERC compliance management processes on your own, no extra time or budget required. For example, you can:
- Implement RSAW changes
- Build or modify reports with a wizard-based approach
- Create unlimited data tables with relationships
- Ensure that data field types automatically render with the correct UI component (Select List, Date, Text, etc.)
- Easily select the fields you want to quickly create as many forms as needed
- Add new or modify existing workflows to meet new or changing conditions….all without writing a line of code or tapping into your development resources.
The flaws exist because of the one unavoidable defect in every homegrown system: You’re trying to run a sophisticated compliance management program using tools that have nothing to do with compliance management, let alone NERC compliance. Generically designed workflow and document management systems aren’t built with your business needs and users in mind. Supporting a compliance use-case was never part of their design process. This omission places the burden on your team to design, produce, and maintain a fully-functioning NERC compliance tool from scratch. There’s no upside to shouldering that burden when SigmaFlow provides a comprehensive, efficient NERC compliance tool that does all the heavy lifting for you.