How We Chose the Best Compliance Management Systems
Compliance management is a discipline with many interweaving parts. It involves ensuring that an organization’s policies, processes, controls, and work functions align with continually evolving rules, policies, and best practices set out by industries and/or governments. Affected industries are wide-ranging and include pharmaceuticals, healthcare, manufacturing, and banking. Each of these areas will have different priorities and concerns. Additionally, there are the employees who need to understand how these regulations affect their day-to-day tasks and leaders who have to figure out the most suitable strategies for monitoring and mitigating risks.
A compliance management system (CMS) aims to bring as many of these pieces under one umbrella as possible. Given this scope, options in this space will have distinct strengths and specialties, but there are three aspects that are essential to any evaluation of CMS alternatives:
Types of Compliance
Companies will face a diverse blend of rules from industry and government regulators, so a key feature of any CMS that’s worth considering is flexibility: It needs to handle the requirements of a variety of compliance types.
Compliance management has many operational activities: document and policy creation, risk monitoring, issue resolution, and audit completion, to name a few. We looked for products that offered a good range of features to allow for efficient and effective management of these tasks.
Compliance-related mistakes and/or oversights can be quite costly, not just financially but also in terms of trust and reputation. First-rate platforms will provide reporting that’s accessible, insightful, and timely.
The 15 Best Compliance Management Systems of 2021
Access Rights Manager
SolarWinds has been in the business of providing IT infrastructure management software for more than 20 years. Its products are designed with ease of use and scalability in mind so companies of any size can benefit. Its contender in the CMS space is Access Rights Manager, a tool that helps you manage and monitor user permissions.
Access Rights Manager offers automated workflows for efficient account setup and termination. A self-service portal gives data owners the ability to grant access to those who need it, both speeding up the process and reducing unnecessary drawdown on IT resources. It includes critical management capabilities such as audit and incident management, and its reporting engine provides users with the ability to create ad hoc reports or schedule them for automated delivery. Clients in need of technical support can reach out via phone, email, or ticket system, and remote assistance is possible.
|Starts at $12/enabled account||Free Trial||>Compliance tracking
>Management of ISO compliance
>More features at Access Rights Manager
Pros & Cons of Access Rights Manager Compliance Management System
>Ease of use
|>Windows desktop installation only
>Can't be used to manage environmental compliance
The focus of Certainty Software is enterprise-wide risk management. Its product helps you identify, manage, and report on risks and compliance requirements. With a goal of minimizing data entry errors, it offers several alternatives for getting data into the system, including scanning, Excel import, and online and offline data transfer via its mobile app. Administrators can better manage the required resolutions for identified issues using functionality that tracks progress, assigns tasks, and automates notifications.
The system can handle several types of compliance, including HIPAA and ISO, but lacks robust compliance management features. There are options for integrations with data sharing and single sign-on partners, and the product is available in several languages. Dashboards can be customized according to user needs and preferences, while reporting functionality includes the ability to drill down to the location, user, or response level. Deployment options are comprehensive, and support can be accessed through a number of channels.
|Starts at $14/user/month||Free Trial||>Handles multiple compliance types
>More features at Certainty Software
Pros & Cons of Certainty Software Compliance Management System
|>Comprehensive deployment offering||>Lacks compliance management features|
Diligent Compliance is one module within the Diligent Entities platform, a collection of software products that gives organizations an integrated view of information for different business areas. By centralizing the data under a single system, users gain a more holistic understanding of the issues that may be affecting the company from a governance perspective. Security is top of mind for the vendor; it follows best practice security standards and offers encrypted workflows.
The solution does a decent job of covering the core features we highlight, such as integrations and the ability to clearly demonstrate compliance with several standards. Analytics are available in real time and can show a company how well they’re doing with regards to governance commitments. Audit management and compliance tracking tools are offered, but incident management capabilities are wanting. Diligent Compliance also provides users with the ability to create plans and assign tasks to ensure follow-through on issues raised during audits.
|Custom Quote||Free Demo||>Web-based, cloud, and SaaS deployment
>More features at Diligent Compliance
Pros & Cons of Diligent Compliance Management System
>Part of an integrated governance platform
|>Lacks incident management features
>Customer support via phone and email only
Donesafe is a compliance platform that grants its users flexibility and choice when it comes to product configuration. It offers a selection of more than 30 ready-to-use apps that can be combined in any way to suit a company’s needs. If functionality is still missing, additional apps can be created. Ready-made templates and a DIY import tool allow customers to get up and running quickly. Donesafe includes several features that help reduce the likelihood of data or actions being missed, such as automated task creation triggered by specific criteria, assignment to appropriate individuals, and follow-up if not completed.
The application provides full coverage of essential and recommended components of a compliance management system. Reports and dashboards can be constructed to deliver granular details or high-level overviews. Usability is a priority for the makers of Donesafe, and in addition to a user-friendly interface, the system is easily accessible via the web and mobile apps. Support resources include FAQs and articles, while more in-depth assistance can be obtained by phone, email, or live chat.
|Starts at $600/year||Free Trial||>Phone, email and live chat support
>Web-based, cloud, SaaS, and mobile app deployment
>Incident management capabilities
>More features at Donesafe
Pros & Cons of Donesafe Compliance Management System
|>Robust feature coverage|
>Ease of use
|>No pre-built integrations|
Spearstone, the creators of DriveStrike, aim to provide smaller businesses with the same level of hardware and data protection that large companies experience. The solution provides users with remote capabilities for erasing, locking, and locating devices. It can be used on devices that run on well-known operating systems and can be installed locally or accessed via the web or mobile app.
Understanding the importance of safeguarding data, the DriveStrike customer support team is available 24/7 and can be reached by phone, email, or support ticket. Remote assistance is also part of the package. The platform offers flexibility when it comes to device management; users can handle the administration of business-provided devices alongside personal ones and organize them based on criteria that make sense for the company (e.g., by department or by location). DriveStrike is compliant with HIPAA regulations and offers audit management functionality.
|Starts at $0.75 per month, based on number of devices||Free Trial||>Reporting
>Works with all major OS
>More features at DriveStrike
Pros & Cons of DriveStrike Compliance Management System
|>Support is available 24/7, 365 days a year|
>Comprehensive deployment offering
|>Limited compliance management functionality
>Can't be used to manage environmental or ISO compliance
Business processes are at the heart of iGrafx’s services. It believes that greater insight into a company’s processes can allow for the discovery of inefficiencies, as well as the construction of a more powerful path between strategic decision-making and effective operations.
IGrafx’s Business Transformation Platform consists of seven products, each focusing on a component of process management, including workflow automation, journey mapping, and robotic process automation acceleration. It’s a cloud-based program designed with ease of use in mind. The risk and compliance module gives users the ability to identify points of concern, understand and measure associated risks, and introduce actions to resolve or reduce potential negative effects.
The application can be used to manage compliance for a number of standards, including HIPAA, ISO, and Sarbanes-Oxley, as well as environmental regulations. Audit management and compliance tracking features are offered, such as views that help administrators stay on top of changes to risk exposure. Reporting functionality includes risk gap analysis and audit reporting from multiple business angles that can be site-specific or consolidated across business functions.
|Starts at $692||Free Trial||>Self-help resources
>Handles multiple types of compliance
>More features at iGrafx
Pros & Cons of iGrafx Compliance Management System
|>Ease of use|
>Part of an integrated process improvement platform
|>No incident management functionality
>Customer support via ticket system only
LogicGate aims to provide a flexible, user-friendly solution that offers customers greater choice and control when it comes to how they want to work. The platform gives clients the power to build apps without needing to know how to code. Out-of-the-box templates and an intuitive tool for creating workflows get users up and running quickly. Organizations can automate compliance process launch, activity scheduling, progress tracking, and alert deliveries.
The system is cloud-based and includes integrations and reporting. LogicGate can be a helpful tool for firms looking to achieve HIPAA and ISO compliance, but it can’t be used for environmental compliance purposes. The application provides audit management functionality and the opportunity for increased collaboration and communication through shared perspectives and responsibilities. Customer support is available via phone, email, ticket system, and live chat.
|Custom Quote||Free Demo||>Self-help resources
>Web-based, cloud, and SaaS deployment
>More features at LogicGate
Pros & Cons of LogicGate Compliance Management System
|>No free trial
>Can't be used to manage environmental compliance
MasterControl has more than 20 years of experience providing products designed to help clients manage the quality and compliance process. Its software suite covers functions such as product development, manufacturing, and clinical trial management. The MasterControl Quality Excellence application allows users to streamline and automate a number of processes, including document management, change control communication, and training administration.
The platform is flexible enough to handle several compliance types, including environmental, HIPAA, and ISO, and customers can use reporting to analyze trends that may be affecting quality and compliance goals. Both audit management and compliance tracking features are provided, as are integrations. The application is cloud-based, and remote assistance is available.
|Small Business (less than 50 employees):|
Basic: $109 per user
Advanced: $169 per user
All Access: $199 per user
Large Enterprise (more than 50 employees):
|None||>Handles multiple compliance types
>More features at MasterControl
Pros & Cons of MasterControl Compliance Management System
|>Extensive customer support options||>No incident management functionality|
MyEasyISO have created a number of applications to help companies achieve ISO compliance in different industries. The firm has a hands-on approach, providing consulting services regarding ISO compliance as well as extensive implementation support. It’s no surprise, then, that the vendor has a customer-first philosophy and aims to create user-friendly products. The solution is scalable, available in multiple languages, and offers a number of customization options.
The system provides robust compliance management features, including audit management, incident management, and compliance tracking. In addition to ISO compliance, the platform can be used to manage environmental regulation compliance requirements. It can be deployed locally on Windows and Mac desktops or accessed via the web or mobile apps. Support channels include phone, email, and ticket system, while a customer support portal is also supplied.
|For 2 users: Starts at $30/month|
For 25 users: Up to $300/month
|Free Trial||>Thorough coverage of compliance management features
>More features at MyEasyISO
Pros & Cons of MyEasyISO Compliance Management System
|>Ease of use|
>Comprehensive deployment offering
|>Can't be used to manage HIPAA compliance|
Netwrix Auditor’s focus is establishing appropriate controls to secure business data and streamlining the activities required to complete compliance audits. The firm values client experience and reports a 97% customer satisfaction rate. The application provides automated functionality to assist customers with identifying risk exposure and security gaps, and it also allows users to decide on the priority order for protecting sensitive data. An at-a-glance view of suspicious activity gives clients the ability to stay on top of potential compliance concerns.
The platform can be used to handle HIPAA and ISO compliance requirements and offers extensive audit management features. Reporting is useful and agile, putting insightful information into the hands of administrators quickly and easily. A number of existing integrations with partner tools are available, while new ones can be built using a specific type of API known as RESTful API. Community support and self-help resources exist, but clients can also access the support team by phone, email, or ticket system.
|Custom Quote||Free Trial||>Comprehensive audit management functionality
>More features at Netwrix Auditor
Pros & Cons of Netwrix Auditor Compliance Management System
|>Solid integration options|
>24/5 customer support
|>Can't be used to manage environmental compliance
>Doesn't have incident management tools
Founded in 2010, Onspring Technologies has created a no-code compliance management solution. It believes in giving its customers a tool that’s easy to set up, maintain, and use. Workflow automation can be used to create and run tests on the security program in place, while the ability to link controls with specific regulations helps team members better understand purpose and accountability.
The application’s compliance management capabilities include audit management, incident management, and compliance tracking. It’s a cloud-based product and supports activities for HIPAA, ISO, and environmental compliance. Reports and dynamic dashboards provide stakeholders with updates regarding security and compliance status. Clients can reach the customer support team by email, phone, or ticket system, and assistance can be provided remotely.
|Starts at $1,740/user/year||Free Demo||>Thorough coverage of compliance management features
>Handles multiple types of compliance
>More features at Onspring
Pros & Cons of Onspring Compliance Management System
|>Comprehensive feature coverage|
>Ease of use
|>No free trial|
SafetyChain’s software suite is designed for use by companies in the food and beverage space. The platform serves the production and compliance needs of industry players, ensuring quality performance across different aspects of their businesses. SafetyChain Compliance Manager is the vendor’s compliance management system offering and can be used to manage both internal and supplier compliance.
The application is cloud-based but can also be installed on Windows and Mac desktops. A mobile app is available on Android and iOS platforms and is a useful tool for auditors who are traveling to different sites. Compliance management functionality covers essential aspects including audit management, incident management, and compliance tracking. Additional features include mobile forms for recording notes and attaching image evidence when offline and connection capability for devices like scales and thermometers. Users can build reports and dashboards to create analytic views that make the most sense for their roles. Self-help documentation is available, and support personnel can also be reached by email, phone, or live chat.
|Starts at $7,500/year||Free Demo||>Web-based, cloud, SaaS, Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPad, and Android deployment
>More features at SafetyChain Software
Pros & Cons of SafetyChain Software Compliance Management System
|>Mobile app on both Android and iOS platforms|
>Robust coverage of compliance management functionality
|>No free trial|
SaltStack’s platform provides customers with functionality to support compliance activities for their IT systems. Its compliance management system, SaltStack SecOps, offers automation capabilities that recognize specific trigger events and then deploy corrective actions, freeing up valuable IT resources. The application can scan systems and compare their states against assigned compliance policies and controls, and policies can be customized to suit customers’ specific needs.
The system includes audit management and compliance tracking functionality and HIPAA compliance support. The application is deployed via desktop installation (Mac and Windows) and offers integrations with partners such as Tenable, Splunk, and AWS. A customer support portal and self-help guides are part of the package, while additional support can be accessed via phone or ticket system.
|Custom Quote||Free Trial||>Customer support portal
>Audit management functionality
>More features at SaltStack
Pros & Cons of SaltStack Compliance Management System
|>Automated corrective actions for breaches|
>Compliance policy customization
|>No incident management functionality
>Local desktop installations only
RiskWatch, the creators of SecureWatch, puts customer service at the top of its priority list. The vendor’s aim is to provide well-priced, easy-to-use risk management and compliance software. The company has more than 25 years of experience in software security and maintains an extensive collection of security-related data points, including risks, valuation assessments, user roles, and evaluation types, that customers can take advantage of to get their compliance programs up and running quickly.
SecureWatch is a web-based product that also can be accessed via mobile app or through a local Mac or Windows desktop installation. It offers offline support, allowing users to complete documentation and evaluations when they’re without internet access and syncing the information when an internet connection is reestablished. The application includes extensive functionality for compliance management and can support multiple compliance types, including environmental regulation, HIPAA, and ISO. Reporting is accessible and customizable, and there are multiple support channels.
|Starts at $90/user/month||Free Trial||>Self-help resources
>Comprehensive deployment offerings
>More features at SecureWatch
Pros & Cons of SecureWatch Compliance Management System
>Extensive coverage of core features
|>API and custom integrations cost extra|
StandardFusion wants to provide users with high-performing compliance management software that’s easy to use and maintain. The platform enables administrators to delegate compliance tasks, thus increasing engagement and involvement across the company. Security and risk mitigation measures can be directly linked to standards and policies, so employees can gain a better understanding of the controls in place. Requirements for compliance programs like ISO 27001, HIPAA, and SOC are built into the platform, and managers can use a summary view to quickly determine whether there are any urgent trouble spots that require attention.
The platform is available via the web and includes audit management capabilities. Integrations are limited but do include partners like Jira, Confluence, and Slack. The customer support team is available via email, phone, or ticket system, and StandardFusion also provides documentation for clients who prefer to take challenges on themselves before reaching out.
|Starts at $750/month||Free Trial||>Web-based, cloud, and SaaS deployment
>More features at StandardFusion
Pros & Cons of StandardFusion Compliance Management System
|>Ease of use||>Limited pre-built integrations|
What Are Compliance Management Systems?
A compliance management system allows a business to more effectively manage the activities needed to ensure conformance with a variety of policies and regulations while also offering functionality that highlights areas of risk. As compliance and governance becomes more complicated, companies are looking to take a more proactive approach. Conversations about compliance often used to be tacked on at the end, but the consequences of a breach can cause significant harm to both a firm’s bottom line and its public profile. Information moves quickly in today’s interconnected world, particularly negative news.
The diversity of CMS offerings also means a sweeping selection of features, so it’s important for companies, especially smaller ones, to carefully consider what they actually need when it comes to compliance management. Are you in an industry that can benefit from being recognized as ISO-compliant? If so, are you ready for those demands, operationally speaking? How exhaustive does incident management functionality need to be for your business? Other considerations include:
- Support availability: Depending on your industry, support that’s offered during business hours only may not be sufficient.
- System access options: Do your employees need a product that allows them to gather information even when they’re offline? Do they visit locations where use of a laptop isn’t possible? Is a mobile app preferable or required?
Benefits of Compliance Management Systems
Compliance requirements are always evolving as industry and government regulators attempt to keep up with the increasing complexity of doing business ethically and responsibly. As technology, and notably data collection, increases its footprint in almost every company’s operations, the protection of hardware, systems access, and data becomes of the utmost importance.
Juggling these components while also trying to ensure employees are informed about the latest changes, processes have been appropriately modified, and risks are consistently monitored can be overwhelming for smaller businesses. The potential for disorganization is clear, but worse is the possibility of a compliance breach, especially a preventable one.
A CMS helps users better manage the various aspects of compliance management through consolidation and centralization. These products can automate repetitive but necessary processes, store related data in a single repository, and provide you with vital insights via reports. In particular, companies can benefit from a CMS that offers predictive capabilities, whether through automated alerts or AI-driven pattern recognition. Because relevant data is held in one system, material required for audits or other compliance checks can be gathered more efficiently.
Solutions in this space also usually provide good options for completing actions that apply more broadly, such as distributing compliance documentation across a company, changing system access permissions at the role level, or assigning similar audit follow-up tasks to different departments.
Must-Have Features for Compliance Management Systems
Compliance management systems need to make the work of monitoring compliance, managing risk, and satisfying audit requirements organized, timely, and effective. The support and services offered can vary significantly, but there are essential features that any meaningful contender should include:
- Types of compliance: The compliance requirements a company faces are a unique blend of internal, industry, and government standards. Any compelling choice in the CMS space should be able to handle different types of compliance, including HIPAA, ISO, and environmental regulation.
- Management features: Compliance extends into a number of areas, including product or service quality, data security, and user permissions, and includes both preventive and corrective actions. Leading solutions include a solid stable of management capabilities, such as audit management, incident management, and compliance tracking, to tackle these aspects.
- Reports: Reporting is often used to see things as they were or sometimes as they are in the moment, but with the advancements in artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, reporting can now also be leveraged to identify possible or probable events. With this kind of potential, detailed, flexible, and easy-to-use reporting has become an indispensable tool for compliance management.
The Cost of Compliance Management Systems
Pricing plans for the compliance management systems we’ve included vary greatly. Due to the diversity in features, priorities, and goals offered, even the base elements of the pricing models — user versus device, per month versus per year — differ. A few companies only provide pricing on a quote basis, while one vendor doesn’t offer any details with regards to cost. Another point of variation to be aware of is customer support coverage; some companies have team members available during business hours only, while others offer 24-hour availability five or seven days a week.
In addition to knowing an application’s breadth of capabilities, it’s also valuable to fully understand depth of functionality. For example, Onspring customers have noted that the product doesn’t provide extensive customization options but usability is high. Other applications deliver robust compliance management feature coverage, but the exact tasks and actions available must satisfy your company’s specific compliance and audit situation.
A thorough examination of what each vendor offers is needed to determine whether they’re the right compliance partner for your business, from both a functionality and a price perspective.