Have you ever had one of those moments when you walked up to your work desk only to be greeted by a tidy, spic-and-span workspace; all the pencil shavings thrown away and precariously strewn documents from the previous day neatly stacked in a pile?

Instead of being pleased, most of us would probably freak out at the sight.

The fact that someone moved around your papers while you were away is enough to send a chill down the spine. Not to mention that the trail of various versions of the work is lost somewhere under the neat pile.

Versioning and Organizational Compliance

It comes down to the same thing when working with documents on a system.You start  working on a document, creating several versions of it in the name of keeping track of changes. You pass it on to a colleague for review who then creates his own set of  versions and tosses it right back to you over the cubicle wall. This often leads to an ambiguous situation, where it becomes difficult to keep track of all the versions floating around or available on individual computers. 

Now, what if the document is one related to your compliance reporting. This is usually a very important document that needs inputs from one set of people and get reviewed by another set. The two key factors critical to the document and the entire process are accuracy and timeliness. Keeping these in mind, the document gets prepared in versions. It then gets inputs from other members of the team or leadership. After some ‘to and fro-ing’, it is reviewed by an external party (your auditor or atttorney). Therefore, not only are there many versions and hand-offs, but also several edits being made pretty much right up to the deadline.  

Sounds like a classic recipe for disaster.

Or not.

Cloud-Based Compliance Planning

Not if you incorporate a cloud-based platform in your compliance planning . A cloud-based compliance management platform provides your reports with ‘wings’, quite literally!  From a world of emails and physical ‘back-n-forthing’, you are transported to one where several people, internal as well as external can collaborate and work on the same document at the same time, eliminating the need to keep versions. What’s more, your document can be accessed from anywhere in the world with only an internet connection.

How can a Cloud-based Compliance Management Platform rock your world?

While cloud applications have been around for some time, there is still some hestitation when it comes to adopting them for compliance reporting. Here are some common concerns and how they are dealt with in a cloud-based compliance management platform:

1. How will  the most updated version of the document be maintained when an entire team is working on it at the same time?
In any session,  the cloud application allows the user to work on a particular section of the document at a time, locking it for editing and review by others while the user’s work is in progress. Thus, the next user working on the same section of the document automatically starts with the updated version.

2. How does the document get passed from one user to other?

Once done, the document can be submitted for review via a system trigger or notification from the application itself rather than having to print or attach it to emails.

3. How are versions controlled and managed?

The application keeps track of versions and specific changes within each version. If required, you can restore past versions, check changes made by colleagues and review/comment as you all work towards completion of the document. And, all this can continue right up to the filing deadline, pretty much up to the last hour. 

Cloud-based compliance applications are changing the way businesses report internally and to regulators. These applications  make teams more productive, and enable collaboration, while saving costs and crunching timelines. Whoever said every cloud has a silver lining actually knew what they were talking about. The cloud can pack quite the punch when it comes to collaborative authoring, especially in the context of something as critical as your compliance reporting.