No avoiding compliance quagmire

Our feature section this issue looks at the latest tools and tips that offer a tiny oasis in the Sahara that is the world of regulation and compliance. Earthquake-like corporate scandals such as Enron, Worldcom and Tyco rocked Wall Street hard enough to trigger aftershocks of another sort, the more sedate type that every organization — and particularly their IT departments — must deal with.

They are the recently enacted laws put forth by governments worldwide that require companies to keep nearly every shred of data in their vaults, lest such information be requested by the authorities at a later date for whatever reason. The requirements have put a new burden on the backs of the typical IT manager, who is left to ask: What exactly do I have to keep? Where do I store all of it? How do I store it? And just how am I going to pay for all this recently required technology?

To make the scenario even more sinister, the new set of circumstances is unlike an earthquake in that these aftershocks never seem to subside; more regulatory rumbles seem to be felt by the average IT manager with each passing month.

The depressing bottom line about the regulatory scenario is that there is no easy out, no real shortcut to getting things done. We’re dealing with the government here, and we all know how receptive they are to the word ‘No’, or the phrase, ‘Yeah, I’ll have that for you in a minute.’

In the world in which many tech mangers live, the parameters around projects assigned to their departments are usually a little more flexible. Through much negotiating, cajoling and sometimes outright pleading with other department executives, deadlines for internal undertakings can be extended by a week or a month. That luxury doesn’t exist when dealing with regulation and compliance projects. And this rigidity with deadlines has caused many outfits to drop everything else and put the government’s requests at or near the top of their priority lists.

Compliance cannot be avoided, only dealt with. It’s up to IT to simply grin and bear it, similar to Canadians dealing with the GST. But hey, if you’re unhappy about it, you can at least rejoice in the fact that our national tax, just before its introduction, was lowered from the original planned figure of nine per cent.

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