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What Is a Compliance Program?

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What Is a Compliance Program?
Author: DuploCloud | Tuesday, April 25 2023
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How to create a roadmap for meeting compliance standards

Building cloud applications is a notoriously complex endeavor, with many competing priorities. Designing and executing a compliance program is battling for limited time and attention, but creating a formal process before you start can save you time in that crucial final push before launch. Let’s talk about why compliance matters early on and how to design a process that will help you get to launch day faster without compromising security.

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What Is a Compliance Program?

What Do Successful Compliance Programs Have in Common?

A DevSecOps Approach

Effective Tools

Automation

Accountability

Airtight Documentation Process

How to Start a Compliance Program

Compliance Is Easier with DuploCloud

What Is a Compliance Program?

A compliance program is a set of policies and procedures that outline how a company will meet and maintain required compliance standards. If you don’t have a product on the market yet, setting up a formal compliance program may seem like an exercise in bureaucracy — but by the time you’re in the depths of a development cycle, you’ll be glad it’s there.

What Is the Purpose of a Compliance Program?

Every cloud-native application will almost assuredly need to meet one or more compliance standards (SOC 2, PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR) before it can go to market. Your exact compliance requirements will depend on the type of application you’re building, what type of customer you are selling to, and what customer information you’ll be managing. Building out a compliance program early on can help your team:

  • Gain clarity: By putting compliance front and center, your team will know exactly which steps to take from the get-go instead of scrambling to figure out which requirements you need to meet when half the work is already done. 
  • Create accountability: With a clear set of steps and processes to follow, there are fewer opportunities for miscommunication and missed deadlines. Your compliance program should outline roles and responsibilities for every compliance-related activity.
  • Stay organized: Following a compliance program also helps with documentation gathering and reporting, which is very useful come audit time. 
  • Get to market faster: Achieving compliance-related tasks early can make the entire development cycle run more smoothly, which ultimately decreases your time to market.

Combined with other security protocols, like those that outline how to respond to a threat or a data breach, a compliance program forms an integral part of your risk management strategy. And because maintaining compliance is an ongoing process, it should continue to support your team beyond launch day.

What Do Successful Compliance Programs Have in Common?

A common reason why compliance programs fail is poorly thought-out policies. They are often rushed and not communicated well, and as a result, developers may choose to ignore them because they don’t align with their daily realities or the product’s goals. Developers may not even know that an official compliance program exists, especially if they joined the team at a later date. You may be wondering what is a compliance risk management plan that actually works? 

The best compliance programs go beyond listing requirement standards from different regulatory organizations. Instead, they’re detailed, accessible, and well-organized sets of documents and workflows that outline exactly which compliance milestones need to be achieved. Here are some features great compliance programs share.

A DevSecOps Approach 

Application developers who work with a DevSecOps perspective feature compliance tasks throughout the entire development lifecycle, and they’re the least likely to leave security until the last minute. As the name implies, on a DevSecOps team, developers, security experts, and operations leaders work together throughout the production schedule, which makes it easier to implement various steps from the compliance program into everyone’s daily task list.

Effective Tools

A compliance program is not a conceptual document — in order to be useful to your team, it needs to list what tools you will use to accomplish milestones and provide concrete steps for accessing them. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately, if you tend to get overwhelmed by options), there are many solutions to help you achieve compliance for standards like SOC 2, PCI DSS, and HIPAA. Consider setting aside some time to decide if you want to put together your own compliance toolkit or go with an out-of-the-box compliance platform.   

Most risk management features also come with guides and templates you can follow as you build out a compliance plan. We created our own checklist that you can download for free right now:

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Automation 

Automating some compliance measures, like monthly scans and report generation, is a must for teams in a rush to get to market. Some developer teams may choose to use an all-in-one automated compliance platform, while others may put together a set of automation tools for different stages in the development cycle.

Accountability 

A compliance program should outline a workflow and a reporting structure that team members can follow as they check compliance tasks off their to-do lists. Besides a clear structure, an effective DevSecOps team will also have regular compliance check-ins to relay updates and get feedback. Without built-in accountability measures, your compliance program may start to gather dust.

Airtight Documentation Process

A compliance program should provide for documentation procedures. Foolproof record-keeping speeds up the entire compliance process by making it easier for team members to communicate about their tasks. It also makes gathering documentation for audits a much less painful process. 

How to Start a Compliance Program

Here are some general steps you may want to take once you’re ready to design a compliance program. The specifics will differ depending on your product and team:

  • Get to know which compliance standards apply to you: SOC 2, PCI DSS, HIPAA, and GDPR are some of the most common standards cloud-based applications need to comply with.
  • Set compliance milestones: Setting specific compliance-related goals and sprinkling them thoughtfully throughout the development cycle can make the entire process more manageable.
  • Build a toolkit: Research and gather a set of tools that will enable the compliance process and create workflows for teams that will be using them. 
  • Document your goals and processes: Store your compliance policy documents and procedures in a secure but accessible manner, so they can be referenced at a moment’s notice.
  • Communicate with your team: A compliance program can’t succeed if your team doesn’t know about it. Ideally, everyone involved with getting the product to market should be aware you’re building out a formal compliance program and have a chance to contribute or provide feedback.

Compliance Is Easier With DuploCloud

DuploCloud provides an automated cloud infrastructure provisioning platform with built-in security and compliance. We help start-ups and small businesses accelerate time to market by natively integrating security protocols, including SOC 2, PCI DSS, HIPAA, ISO, NIST, and GDPR. Reach out to our team to schedule a demo.

Author: DuploCloud | Tuesday, April 25 2023
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