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Compliance leaders, such as Chief Information Security Officers, are faced with the increasing responsibility of minimizing the risks their businesses face. However, it is not reasonable for them and their teams to be solely responsible for reducing risk. Compliance should be a duty that belongs – at least in part – to all members of the organization.
This does not mean that the proverbial responsibility is passed on. If you’re the head of risk and compliance, you’ll be the one to answer any issues that arise. Still, you can’t be expected to do everything. That is a recipe for health disaster. After all, 90% of CISOs say they regularly deal with at least moderate stress Nominee reported.
To reduce your chance of professional burnout, start delegating to others both inside and outside your industry. Are you uncomfortable with the prospect? There are several steps you can take to delegate responsibly and securely. That way no one can sabotage your company’s compliance efforts and you have fewer tasks to accomplish.
Related: 7 rules for entrepreneurs to delegate effectively
1. First map out your delegation strategy
Instead of delegating tasks bit by bit, put together a delegation schedule. State what you plan to delegate, who it will be delegated to and how it will be monitored.
For example, security training is essential, but can be time consuming if your organization deals with sensitive information. You can delegate this responsibility to a designated security officer help ease the burden. Ensure that the employee is adequately trained and that their performance is regularly monitored to maintain compliance with security protocols. By delegating this responsibility, you grant ownership and authority within specific parameters while maintaining overall control.
Once you’ve created your schedule for certain tasks, you may feel more comfortable delegating responsibilities. Just be sure to make the diagram transparent to anyone on it so people know where the property is.
2. Prioritize operationalizing security tasks (or tools that do it for you)
It can feel uncomfortable handing over tasks, especially those related to compliance and security. By operationalizing safety practices in standard operational processes, such as onboarding and offboarding new employees and tech stack applications, you can protect against tasks that would otherwise fall through the cracks and empower your workforce to contribute to the broader risk management strategy.
As noted by CPO Magazine, 88% of security vulnerabilities are related to human error. By adding secondary “just in case” checks to important tasks, existing errors can be quickly identified. Risk management tools should be incorporated into your strategy to scan for and alert you to anomalies and areas of risk. Finding anomalies leads to rapid alerts and opportunities to respond quickly.
Naturally verifying all your delegation workflows can be beneficial if you are audited as well. As noted by Kevin Brown, Information Security Officer at risk management platform Ostendio:
“Security is about more than adhering to a framework. Organizations must first focus their efforts on data security and risk management planning, and with the right discipline, they can develop the policies and procedures necessary to pass complex security audits.”
You might consider implementing a tool that allows you to traverse multiple security frameworks and track security operational implications as one of those protective practices.
3. Generate tracking methods for all delegated assignments
If you’re not already using a project management software tool, consider adding one for all delegated security-related commands. You want to have a track record that is visible to the stakeholders of each job. This reduces the risks and threats related to possible errors or missed steps.
Related: 5 project management systems to streamline your business processes
Ideally, the project management module or tool should make it easy to get a snapshot of what’s happening across your security landscape. You should be able to log in at any time and see if security, compliance, and risk management tasks are up to date.
In the event of a problem, you’ll be glad you have a way to spot gaps and loopholes. It’s always better to find places of concern before they cause major headaches. Keeping track of all communications, actions and owners in a single source of truth makes you more efficient.
4. Perform risk assessments before delegating to outsourced third parties
Numerous third-party entities tout their abilities to keep your business compliant with security frameworks. And outsourcing some aspects of your risk management can be a smart way to delegate. The problem? You cannot control what third parties do.
Conducting a comprehensive investigation to make sure they can deliver on their promises is the way to go. After choosing a third-party vendor that you believe will meet your needs, conduct a third-party risk assessment to ensure they protect your organization from a potential breach.
Since risk is the job of everyone in your organization, make sure other departments are equally careful. You need to know the ways they evaluate third-party providers. The last thing you want is for someone to disclose your company’s data by contracting through the wrong third party.
5. Explain the rationale behind regulation when delegating.
To cover all your bases when delegating outside of your department, take a pedagogical approach. Instead of just telling others what to do, give them the reason why they are doing it. As you know, regulations and laws can be very confusing, even for those in the know. Spending time in “educator mode” emphasizes the importance of the task you are delegating.
Being informative also has an additional purpose. The more other employees (and not just your direct reports) understand compliance and risk management, the better. It’s much easier to get everyone on board with security practices and procedures when they know why they matter.
Remember: Avoiding risk as much as possible is something anyone can do. Yes, your job description is to lead compliance and security. But you can’t make decisions for all your colleagues. By sharing important information, everyone can make informed choices based on facts.
You may feel that you can’t possibly pass on many of your responsibilities. But if you don’t, you limit your ability to perform high-level functions. So go ahead and delegate tasks. Make sure you have structured management in place to keep everything safely on track.