10 questions you need to ask when comparing automation solutions

Automation has many recognised benefits for Compliance teams.Info-01

Automating your processes can:

  • Improve efficiency
  • Reduce the potential for regulatory breaches
  • Save time, reducing duplication, paperwork and administration
  • Ensure faster sign-off of financial promotions
  • Improve brand consistency
  • Provide better management information, leading to continuous improvement
  • Create a more joined-up approach between you, your Marketing and your Sales teams

You can read more here about the benefits of automated workflows for Compliance teams.

So much choice – how can you make an informed decision?

There is a huge range of automated workflow solutions available.

Faced with this– how can you choose the right one? We’ve compiled the 10 questions you need to ask.

1.  How user-friendly is it?

Automating your processes should reduce your headaches, not add to them. But if the platform is overly-complex, you and your colleagues just won’t use it. The solution needs to be user-friendly and intuitive. This will help to ensure you get firm-wide buy-in.

2.  Can it support project management firm-wide?

As well as helping reduce Compliance team administration, speeding up approvals and getting financial promotions to market faster, a good automation tool can help with other tasks. Your Marketing team might welcome a solution that offers online briefing and collaboration with external agencies. For your Sales colleagues, anything that can help cut the time they spend on pitches and presentations will be a bonus. 

3.  Does it let you collaborate across offices?

All your teams may not be in the same location. If your firm has numerous offices, a platform than enables real-time reviewing of materials can be a big help. Ask how many teams or locations can use the platform. How are costs worked out? Will you face any restrictions on the access and licences you need? 

4.  What training and support is provided?

However intuitive your chosen solution, there will be times when you need assistance. At implementation stage, is there a team who can help you customise the platform to your requirements? What training is provided – are there user guides or training videos? What level of ongoing tech support is available? Is it 24/7, and does it deliver ‘plain English’ advice?

5.  How do costs compare to the alternatives?

Automated workflow tools can vary hugely in price. What do you actually need from a solution? Make sure you’re not paying for added extras you won’t use. And make sure fees are transparent. What’s included and what do you have to pay extra for? Are costs scalable so that it can be cost-effectively extended to your entire firm? 

6.  Can it help with brand - as well as regulatory - compliance?

Regulatory issues are probably your priority when you’re working on financial promotions. But brand non-compliance can also be a threat to your promotions. Can the platform you’re considering help with this? Some have document and slide libraries that can ‘lock down’ branded content, imagery or logos. This can help to speed approvals, ensuring your marketing materials are compliant from a brand as well as a regulatory perspective.

7.  Can I get other areas of the firm to buy into this?

As we’ve said above, firm-wide buy-in is vital to ensure your chosen solution is adopted and used. The benefits of a good automation tool go far beyond the Compliance team. Identify the benefits for Sales, Marketing and the rest of the business and it will be easier to build your business case. 

8.  Does it automatically create a compliant audit trail?

The way your promotions are produced, approved and stored is as important as the finished product. FCA compliance demands compliant record-keeping. An automated workflow can help, by capturing reviews, approvals and the final promotions. 

Choose the right solution and your record keeping will meet best practice guidelines, meaning you’re always ready for a possible FCA visit. Ask whether the solution automatically stores records for social media and other digital marketing – as this needs the same degree of record-keeping rigour as hard copy materials.

9.  What management information does it provide?

The data available from an automation platform can be hugely valuable, enabling you to refine your processes. But to benefit from it, it has to be easy for you to access, understand and interrogate. 

Ask what data you get from the solution you’re considering, and how user-friendly its outputs are.

10.  How secure is it?

Your data contains valuable, confidential corporate and client information. Ask what accreditation your platform’s host has – they should be accredited to standards like PCI DSS, ISO27001 and ISAE 3402 Type II.

Ask these 10 questions and you will be on your way to realising the benefits of automation – and avoiding any potential pitfalls.

To find out more about the benefits of automation for Compliance teams, you can read our whitepaper. The Benefits of Automated Workflows is free, and you can download a copy here.

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