Segregation of duties is essential in any business. Whether you’re analyzing corporate transactions or implementing data security controls, having separate teams that keep each other in check is critical towards maintaining effective operations.
Segregation of duties is particularly critical during IT work. IT personnel are on the frontlines of keeping your data safe and detecting/repelling cybersecurity attacks. A single malware attack or phishing message is enough to paralyze an entire company’s operations. Therefore, a very high level of efficiency is necessary to ensure that your IT department doesn’t miss out on the little details that matter. This is why segregation of duties is so essential, and it allows you to reduce operational mistakes and avoid the misuse of corporate resources.
Every business should have a plan for segregation at the early stages of any IT project. In fact, segregation of duties should be part of your daily operational structure. It’s the best way of ensuring high performance, setting clear goals, and auditing critical business processes.
Benefits Of Duty Segregation In IT
The basic idea behind segregation of duties is to ensure that no single group/team has complete control over a process. By having checks and balances in place, there will be an overall culture of accountability that radiates throughout the entire organization.
Accountability cannot be overstated when it comes to IT operations. Whenever you plan and initiate programs, authorize data access, audit performance, or review data security assets, you’ll need the involvement of many different stakeholders to ensure that the entire process is objective. Segregation of duties reduces errors and enables different teams to have a say in how your IT operations are carried out.
Here are some of the main benefits of segregating your IT duties:
1. Track IT performance more effectively
Performance is critical in IT operations. As previously mentioned, a single mistake could expose your network to numerous attacks at any given time. Because a hacking attempt s registered every 35 seconds, you’ll need your IT teams to maintain high-performance standards.
Segregating duties is an effective way of doing this. Different teams can compare performance levels via audited processes, resource allocation, and final reports. This information can then be compared to set performance benchmarks. And because many different stakeholders are involved, all benchmarks will be fair and applicable across various workflows.
2. Minimize fraud or “intentional” mistakes
Fraud often occurs when one person/group has control over a specific process. Because there’s minimal supervision, the person will have room to manipulate controls and misrepresent IT security operations.
Segregating duties can significantly reduce cases of fraud. Because multiple parties are involved in completing a process, unusual activity can be detected early, and the possibility of fraud is reduced.
3. Get real-time updates of your data security environment
The core function of your IT department is to manage digital assets and maintain a secure data environment. These responsibilities are quite broad, and they involve many different workflows that need to be carried out daily. From managing data records to detecting phishing emails, IT departments are swarmed with numerous interconnected tasks.
Segregating duties is an excellent way of streamlining these tasks and getting a quick summary of how the entire department is performing.
4. Reduce operational costs
Catching issues early is a critical part of segregating duties. This is why segregation allows you to significantly reduce operational costs in your IT department (and entire business). But in addition to catching issues early, you can also implement corrective action to protect your digital assets.
Every second counts within cyberspace. If every employee has a specific function that is counterbalanced by other workers within the business, errors will be identified and dealt with accordingly.
Developing A Strategy For Segregating Duties
You may be wondering how to get started with dividing responsibilities in your business. Indeed, T duty segregation goes beyond assigning job titles. Many companies also think that securing hardware/software is enough to achieve separation. But in reality, segregation is closely tied to employee assignments and performance. Having your workers keep each other in check will be a significant step towards achieving segregation and compliance.
Start with user access review
When segregating employee duties in IT, make sure that each worker’s functions are tied to their level of software access. In other words, each job description should correlate to certain pre-developed software settings. This will ensure that all workers can perform their duties effectively, without granting too much access to unauthorized personnel.
The process of staggering software access to job descriptions is what constitutes user access review. To get started, conduct a risk assessment that reflects potential threats to daily operations. For example, if the employee who detects cybersecurity threats also monitors IT performance, there’s a risk of fraud or conflict of interest during audit reports. Outline all relevant job functions and ensure that no single worker can review their functions or cover up their deficiencies.
Implementing internal controls
Internal controls are the essence of segregating duties. By having employees work on separate tasks that counterbalance, you’ll be able to control performance and minimize mistakes in your digital asset management. More specifically, internal controls help you avoid duplicated tasks and omissions.
You can implement internal controls by assigning distinct employee access codes, using password-protected files, and reconciling purchases with multiple stakeholders. Internal controls help you segregate employee duties for optimal performance, without compromising on the quality of work.
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Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that. He has propelled Reciprocity’s success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT. Learn more at ReciprocityLabs.com.