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Master Compliance RSAW Reporting in Six Simple Steps

With more than 225 North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) Reliability Standards across 19 Entity roles, mastering compliance tracking is no easy feat. NERC has developed a series of Reliability Standard Audit Worksheets (RSAW) which serve as a guide that describes the types of evidence Registered Entities may use to demonstrate compliance with a given Standard. The RSAWs provide a way for Entities to identify compliance evidence to NERC and their Regional Entity. They include fields for completion by your subject matter experts, and ideally, the responses will supply all the information required to prove compliance with the Standard.

Here are six key steps to help you master compliance tracking using the RSAWs.

1. Identify the Standard and Requirements 
NERC writes the RSAWs to meet the specific versions of each Reliability Standard. So be sure to choose the version of the RSAW applicable to the Standard being assessed. The OATI webCompliance tool now provides participating company users an RSAW reporting feature within the application for the Reliability Standards applicable to their Entity roles. The RSAWs will also be updated in OATI webCompliance whenever there are new changes from NERC.

2. Set Deadlines and Responsibilities 

It’s important to know who is gathering and documenting each piece of evidence, along with when that documentation is due. Typically, entities will establish separate internal due dates — deadlines for when documentation is due for internal review — with plenty of lead time prior to the official RSAW due date. OATI webCompliance users can assign each compliance task to a specific user, department, or group of users, and set up helpful reminders of lead times and upcoming deadlines. Each user’s calendar can be integrated with Microsoft™ Outlook so no one should lose track of a due date. Recurring deadlines and notifications can easily be set, based on the required reporting timeline.

3. Track Compliance Activities and Evidence 
Think of the RSAWs as the road map of your compliance program. RSAWs guide you through what steps you need to take and what types of document you need to maintain to help your company remaining compliant with the rigorous of the NERC and Regional Reliability Standards. The worksheets provide a logical order for organizing artifacts and a formal method for communication between your entity and the Regional Entities. You will want to make sure all of your activities and evidence are documented and stored in a central location — a place where all responsible parties can easily access the data and documents. A tracking tool, such as OATI webCompliance, can serve as a secure, central repository for compliance documentation.

4. Tell Your Story 

Beyond mere documentation, the RSAWs mandate a narrative explanation for how your organization meets each compliance Requirement. Some Standards and Requirements also have additional questions for all respondents, and Regional Entities sometimes will add additional questions for individual organizations. Users of the OATI webCompliance RSAW module can record their mandated narrative answers, as well as answers to any additional RSAW questions, right in the application.

5. Audit and Report 

In case of an audit, the audit team will want access to your process documents and records — but they won’t do any of the legwork or digging for details that may require. It’s your job to pull it all together. With the OATI webCompliance RSAW module, your compliance team can output your RSAW report, in Microsoft™ Word format, with all of the gathered documents, narrative responses, and additional notes required — all with just a few clicks. If any of your documentation changes, just re-generate the worksheet with all of the latest content.

6. Wash, Rinse, and Repeat 

The RSAW is your primary method of communicating your entity’s internal compliance process, controls, and evidence to NERC and the Regional Entities. As such, RSAWs are the ‘make it or break it’ component of your NERC compliance management program. Don’t be caught “hunting and pecking” your responses. Use the OATI webCompliance RSAW module to manage change and eliminate oversights in your Standards compliance efforts.