How to Best Communicate Your Security and Compliance Requirements to Potential Business Clients & Partners
Have you been trying to find the best way to communicate your compliance and security standings with potential clients, business partners and vendors? There are certainly some communications challenges to overcome since the world of security and compliance comes with a language of its own, especially when you consider all the various industries that have their own highly specific requirements.
However, good and solid communication is—as you likely already know—the cornerstone of a successful joint business venture, so it is worth serious and robust effort to learn the necessary philosophies and languages you will come up against.
Launching Your Mission to Better Communicate with Your Prospects
Forbes cites an apt quote from Dr. John Lund—a family counselor and business communications consultant—where he recommends, “Don’t communicate to be understood; rather, communicate so as not to be misunderstood.”
At the very least, misunderstandings can cause delays, confusion and a compromise of trust. Far worse are misunderstandings that lead to data breaches and other types of exposure that leave your business—or your future business partner’s organization—open to all types of negative consequences. In the end, the lion’s share of responsibility falls on your organization. At the very least, your potential business partners will appreciate any proactive measures you take to align your vision with their own, in the interest of protecting their company’s interests.
Clearly and candidly letting new and prospective business associates know what you need from them or what you can do for them—as early as possible in communications—is essential to forming a lasting professional association in which you can place your trust. That same solid communication pathway also provides them with clear expectations you may have that may include in investing in security upgrades and performing compliance audits.
Consider All the Key Ingredients to Improve Compliance and Security Communications
Sometimes dissecting an issue down to its smallest ingredients is the best tack for everyone. Take a look at everything from the “what” to the “why” and beyond to help you and your prospects land and stay on the same page with healthy, courteous and professional dialogue.
What Type of Security and Compliance Require Attention?
The best way to communicate your needs and the health of your company to prospects is to create a checklist based on ISO-27001, which is a series of information management standards focused on the sensitive data that your organization collects, stores, transmits and processes. For the checklist you create for your business prospect, look at your established set of security controls and objectives intended to handle risk management of your data to see if there are any gaps. If you find any gaps, close them. If you cannot close those gaps, prepare a statement for prospective customers and business partners to review before more intensive meetings.
Who Needs to Be Involved with Security and Compliance?
Your prospective customer, vendor or business partner must mirror your own business’s system and compliance measures. You must make the terms of who is responsible for the security of your data and compliance with regulations, standards and policies clear to any new or potential business partners.
Most importantly, you need to make sure their information technology team understands your system and data needs as well—particularly relating to internal controls and objectives—to make sure they can properly align their system, as needed. The business must also commit to ensuring that their own staff complies with the security required by your own organization to avoid any unauthorized usage or errors that put your data at risk. It may also help if the business has a compliance officer or team on staff to take the lead on regulatory issues.
Your professional auditing team can also help you determine the key players in forming a successful business partnership with a company committed to helping to keep you maintain optimal security and compliance.
What Types of Audits Must You Perform?
Depending on your own industry—whether healthcare, financial, credit cards or something else—your compliance needs and necessary audits will vary. Let your business partners know that you must, for example, receive the necessary third-party HIPAA-HITECH attestation to comply with healthcare regulations. Clarify whether or not your organization has remained current in its various audits and whether they must do the same to protect your clients, customers, patients or stakeholders.
When Do You Need to Perform Audits?
Again, depending on your industry and needs for compliance, the length of time between your audits may vary. However, most of the time, you will report on your organization’s compliance annually. Make sure to have this information readily available to provide to your business partners. They may request that you perform an audit to ensure the health of your business before forming a business partnership or signing an agreement.
What Additional Information Can You Provide to Your Business Partner Prospects to Provide Assurance of Security and Compliance?
There are a number of additional things you can do to inform prospective business partners of your business’s health when it comes to security and compliance, including the following:
1. Document Your Own Internal Security Evaluation Report
Prepare an internal report that you model after your choice of popular security frameworks. This less formal and proactive report offers your potential business partners context so you can engage in effective conversations.
2. Identify and Document Solutions Before Meeting
Avoid waiting until the last minute to resolve issues before meeting with potential technology vendors. If you anticipate issues with implementing their product, take a look at the timeline and try to determine the cost of implementing their product. Waiting until the last minute may end up costing you a great deal of money. Getting ahead of issues provides your clients with assurance that you have already started the vendor selection process and that they can start planning accordingly.
3. Build Security and Compliance Initiatives into Your Own Project and Budget
Don’t wait until you have fully developed a product to consider security and compliance issues. If you know the market where you anticipate the great sales, such as the credit card industry, look into PCI DSS compliance and security requirements. Your ability to let business prospects know you’ve already accounted for compliance will go a long way toward opening easy and healthy communications.
4. Learn Your Client’s Pain-Points and Work to Address and Resolve Them
Perhaps your client has concerns about one aspect of your security and compliance. You don’t need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Make sure to let your clients know you want to know any sticking points and how you can work together to ease their concerns. Such healthy communication is a great way to avoid further audits.
Do You Feel Confident in Your Interactions and Communications with Your Potential Business Clients and Partners?
Many CIOs and other executives find it complicated discussing security and compliance matters with new business clients and partners, thanks to the complexity of the matter. As technology continues to play an increasingly vital role in business, connecting companies for a variety of reasons more each day, it is more important than ever for companies to develop the communications skills to address these issues to build trust and lasting professional relationships. Our I.S. Partners, LLC. team can help you brush up on these critical communications skills.
Call us at 215-631-3452, launch a chat session, send us a message or request a quote so we can discuss any needs you may have regarding security, compliance or business partner relations in our digital landscape.