NERC/CIP regulations create a situation in which the organizations that handle the energy power infrastructure that is critical to both organizational and national security must carefully and systematically track and audit their processes. The FERC maintains a network of regional auditors that perform official evaluations to ensure regulatory compliance. However, the penalties for failing to meet NERC/CIP standards are severe, and failing an external audit can be incredibly damaging. As a result, it is vital that organizations perform self-audits, a process that is much easier when business are tracking their operations on a day-to-day basis.
Change management technologies play a critical role in supporting these tracking capabilities, but a quick look at NERC/CIP auditing is needed to begin digging deep into how change management can deliver value as part of regulatory compliance plans.
Looking at NERC/CIP Standards
The NERC website explains that all bulk power owners and operators need to comply with its regulations, and the enforcement policies are extremely strict.
"Compliance Enforcement is the process by which NERC issues sanctions and ensures mitigation of confirmed violations of mandatory NERC Reliability Standards. As part of these efforts, NERC can also issue directives to immediately address and deter new or further violations, irrespective of their presence or status (i.e., confirmed or alleged)," the NERC website explains.
With so much at stake, organizations need to carefully track and monitor their own processes to avoid falling on the wrong side of a Compliance Enforcement arrangement. To put NERC/CIP guidelines simply - organizations need to manage their information technology and operations technologies in such a way that they do not risk an outage to critical systems. This sounds straightforward enough, but think about it - these regulations mean that you need to carefully analyze every process to make sure that you are properly completing every task and creating the checks and balances needed to eliminate human error.
You can get worksheets from the NERC to help you perform these complex self evaluations.
Applying Change Management to NERC/CIP Audits
Evaluating your processes to eliminate the risk of downtime hinges on being able to track all of your processes, figure out who has authorized different operations and identify that tasks were completed in compliance with relevant regulations. A change management platform will help you create process workflows for a project, put regulatory reminders on different functions, establish places where authorization from a manager will be required and document all of these operations in real time. The result is an audit paper trail for all of your changes, making it much easier to perform self audits and ensure NERC/CIP compliance.