Being able to demonstrate SOC 2 compliance can open doors for SaaS companies. After successfully completing the SOC 2 audit process, the clients your company attracts and their level of trust in you will increase. Sometimes dramatically!
SOC 2 compliance is an industry gold standard for establishing trust with customers, securing infosec posture, and boosting revenue growth. However, the SOC 2 audits are resource-intensive and cumbersome at best. This article explores 7 proven methods that can be leveraged to accelerate a successful SOC 2 audit.
1. Get executive buy-in
Getting an executive buy-in right before you start the project can make a massive difference in the time it takes to complete it.
Inform everyone in your company about your SOC 2 initiative. Explain to them how it is going to benefit the organization. And set expectations right!
Imagine working with a team outside your department who won't understand the importance of the SOC 2 audit and the evidence needed for it to complete. In this situation, you need an executive buy-in to explain the significance of the SOC 2 audit and motivate those teams outside your department. The right executive buy-in is essential to clear roadblocks and delays in completing the SOC 2 process.
2. Select the right leadership team
"Great things in business are never done by one person; they're done by a team of people."
This is so true when it comes to completing a SOC 2 audit. SOC 2 isn't just a project done by a set of employees. It's a collaboration and participation of employees across the entire organization.
It's better to involve leadership from different functions as they will know which employee from their department has access to the required documents to process SOC 2 audit.
Typically, a leadership team should consist of:
Ensure the project goals are aligned with the overall company strategy
Provide ongoing direction to the project team during the audit lifecycle
Have enough equity within the organization to identify and influence employees and be able to debottleneck processes where needed
Settle any conflicts that arise while rolling out changes in tools, policies, and processes
A special projects manager/ strategy team member
Oversees the SOC 2 preparation and audit process
Coordinates with the SOC 2 team to drive the project to meet the milestones
Tracks milestones and make sure they are met
Communicates the changes in the project plan and the risks that come with not implementing the right strategy
Head of technology
Plan, organize, control, and evaluate IT and data operation
Ensure tech team participation and adoption to drive SOC 2 audit to closure
Head of infrastructure
Assist with implementation of infosec measures and evidence collection
Head of Human Resources (HR) / administration
Design and enforce company-wide infosec policy
In smaller companies, the leadership team is often comprised of:
Chief of staff or someone from the founder's team
Chief Technical Officer (CTO) or VP Engineering
A business process lead
Chief Operating Officer (COO) or HR Manager
An infosec lead
Director of security or senior engineer
Set the expectations right. Let them know the project duration and what's required from every employee involved.
3. Define the scope
Plan and strategize to define the scope. People, location, policies and procedures, and the technology stack you use impact the security of sensitive data. The scope directly impacts the timelines and the cost for the SOC 2 audit.
Ask yourself the following questions while defining the scope of the SOC 2 audit:
Do I need a SOC 2 report for the entire organization or only specific services?
Does the organization need all the 5 TSCs or only specific criteria?
Which report type to choose: SOC 2 Type 1 or SOC 2 Type 2?
Which systems and processes support the selected TSC?
Will the auditor assess the TSC selected?
Which contractors will not affect the customer data security?
4. Write policies and procedures
SOC 2 necessitates a ton of policies to be in place anchored on information security and evidence that these policies are in use. You will need a library of policies, that have been covered in detail here.
Some of these SOC 2 policies would be:
Already in place
Already in place but not robust enough
Assumed in the organization but not codified
Need to be written from scratch
Irrespective of the starting point of these policies, the SOC 2 audit will require robust practices and procedures across these areas as defined in the scope.
You can leverage compliance software like Scrut Automation, which has predefined templates to build your policies.
It's good to leverage a senior member from the HR or legal team to create these policies.
5. Collect Evidence
The auditor will evaluate your SOC 2 based on the evidence you submit. Evidence includes documents like spreadsheets, emails, screenshots on access control metrics, approval of privileged access given, minutes of meetings, screenshots of password policy, information security training presentations, and patch management reports.
Collecting evidence for various artifact controls across TSCs can be overwhelming, and this is the most time-consuming step in the SOC 2 compliance audit process. So, it's good to use software that automates this evidence collection.
6. Readiness assessment
Imagine the feeling of failing the final audit after spending months and thousands of dollars.
To curb this situation, we recommend a readiness assessment to ensure the controls work as intended. Readiness assessments reduce the risk, close the gaps, and help you get your organization final audit-ready.
A few companies conduct self-readiness assessments internally, while few hire a consultant for the same. We have a team of people who can help you with your readiness assessment.
7. Implement Technical Configurations and Controls
Identify the gaps in your compliance and make a plan to remediate them. Sometimes, technical tasks consume time and require assistance from your product development team and IT team.
What new tools or techniques do you need to implement? Remember, new tools will take time and research to select and set up.
While all this can be a lengthy process, it's important not to get stuck. Try and get this done in at most two months before you keep your technical configurations in place.
Start your SOC 2 audit compliance process with us!
Scrut Automation is a one-stop shop for compliance. Our software provides the fastest solution for achieving and maintaining SOC 2 compliance, making it an ideal choice for busy startups. Schedule your demo today to see how it works.