SOC 2 Readiness Assessment [A Quick Guide]
May 31, 2023
After having spent months getting SOC 2 ready, when and how can you know if you are ready for the SOC 2 audit? How much audit prep is good enough? After all, you don’t want to appear ill-prepared for your SOC 2 audit and risk an adverse auditor opinion on your SOC 2 report.
Enter SOC 2 Readiness Assessment. A dress rehearsal of sorts, SOC 2 readiness assessments are conducted before your SOC 2 audit. An examiner (external auditor) goes over all your SOC 2 requirements and controls, and flags off non-compliances and control gaps for you to remediate before your SOC 2 audit. SOC 2 readiness assessments, therefore, are much-needed course corrections in your SOC 2 journey.
In this article, we line up the FAQs on SOC 2 readiness assessment – when should it be performed, what to expect from it, what does it cost, and whether you need it?
What is a SOC 2 Readiness Assessment?
A SOC 2 readiness assessment captures the lapses or misses in your organization’s processes, policies, and gaps before the final audit. Since you cannot go back in time to make these corrections, it is the next best thing to ensure you get a squeaky-clean SOC report.
Readiness assessments make for an effective way to ensure all the necessary measures have been taken to become compliant, and changes are made in time before the SOC 2 audit.
SOC 2 compliance will help your company grow and land larger deals. But it takes work to get there. SOC 2 readiness assessment, put simply, evaluates whether the work you have put in is good enough for you to go through a SOC 2 audit, and identifies issues you need to address.
You can hire an external consultant or a Certified Public Accountant firm, or institute an internal audit team to conduct your SOC readiness assessment. While it is an optional step in your SOC 2 compliance journey, your readiness assessment is best done by a professional consultant, who understands the nuances of your business as well as those of the security compliance landscape.
Therefore, SOC 2 self-assessments (carried out by internal teams) aren’t always the best option. They are akin to you reviewing your own work, and might not always yield results in discovering control gaps and oversights.
What does SOC 2 Readiness Assessment Include?
A SOC 2 readiness assessment is akin to a private screening of a movie before its release to test the audience’s reaction so that the director can make the necessary changes. Typically, your SOC 2 readiness assessment will involve the following steps:
Review Audit Scope & Controls Mapping
The consultant will review your audit scope in terms of the TSC chosen and then verify how you have mapped them to your internal controls. Each of the criteria has a set of individual criteria and requirements, and the assessment will take a detailed look at how well your SOC 2 controls are mapped to each individual criterion.
The detailed spreadsheet (where you maintain the controls mapping), requisite documentation (such as management assertion letter, system description, and policies, to name a few) and evidence of compliance are reviewed too. In short, your SOC 2 assessment will bring to light missing controls or control gaps, if any, that you can correct before your SOC 2 compliance audit.
Ensure you have enough time to remediate and plug the gaps before you slot your SOC 2 audit.
Get a detailed Remediation Plan
Your SOC 2 readiness assessment will highlight the missing links, controls design, and operational oversights of your controls vis-a-vis the SOC 2 compliance requirements. The external consultant typically would make recommendations on improvement areas, and offer remediation plans to fix the deficiencies and oversights.
Redesign of processes, implementation of security awareness training programs, and improvement in evidence collection are some of the other areas your consultant might weigh upon following their assessment. Typically, the consultant would issue a letter to the management detailing their observations, recommendations, and opinion on your SOC 2 readiness.
Also, find out how you can automate SOC 2 compliance
How much does a SOC 2 readiness assessment cost?
The SOC 2 readiness assessment cost is outside your SOC 2 audit costs. The cost of a SOC 2 readiness assessment typically varies depending on the size and complexity of your organization controls and the scope of audit, as well as on the pedigree of the auditor (or firm) chosen. Big 4 firms, as expected, would cost you more, while a smaller CPA firm, in comparison, would charge less.
While it’s difficult to tag a specific number, you can expect a ballpark of $10,000-$15,000 as charges for your readiness assessment. The cost of not getting one, however, can be devastating.
Why conduct a SOC 2 readiness assessment?
As we mentioned before, SOC 2 readiness assessment isn’t a mandatory step in your SOC 2 compliance journey. But it comes highly recommended. And here’s why:
Reduce Scope for Errors & Oversights
The readiness assessment comprehensively reviews all the aspects of your security compliance. It’s perhaps the most effective way to ensure you have ticked all the boxes in terms of your SOC 2 compliance requirements. And since the assessments detail the lapses and gaps, and make recommendations to fix them as well, it reduces the scope for errors and oversights when you eventually go through your SOC 2 audit.
The assessment gives feedback on every aspect of your business and recommends how to fix every gap. The recommendations may range from simple to complex – from making organizational charts to having your vendor assessments reviewed and approved by the leadership team periodically.
Better Prepare for SOC 2 audit
Since readiness assessment is like a trial run of your SOC 2 audit, you know what to expect in your SOC 2 audit in terms of the questions/observations that can be raised. It also preps you in terms of collating evidence, documentation, policies and procedures, and detailing your control objectives matrix, to name a few.
For the most part, it will prepare you to prove compliance to your auditor. In short, it helps you get better prepared for your SOC 2 audit.
Improve your chance of a Successful SOC 2 Audit
A SOC 2 readiness assessment improves your chances of getting an unqualified auditor opinion in your SOC 2 report. An unqualified opinion in your SOC 2 report means that your auditor did not find any issues during the audit; every control tested was designed appropriately (Type 1 report) and operated effectively (Type 2 report).
Also check out: SOC 2 compliance for startups
When should a readiness assessment be performed?
It’s best done when you have ample time before the observation window of your SOC 2 audit begins; time enough to rectify and fix the observations from your readiness assessment. So, plan your readiness assessment ahead and leave room to incorporate all the suggestions made in time for a successful SOC 2 audit.
The smart way to reduce readiness assessment Cost
Compliance automation platforms such as Sprinto offer a smarter, scalable and less expensive way to assess your SOC 2 readiness.
Sprinto offers you a dashboard view of your SOC 2 audit readiness in terms of percentage readiness. It gives a granular view of passing, failing and critical checks as well as for due tests. It also gives you an entity-level overview of who needs to do what.
With Sprinto, you enter your SOC 2 audit with complete preparedness. Thanks to its intuitive and easy-to-use user auditor-friendly interface, evidence collection, controls mapping, policies, and other documentation are all aligned and made available at the click of a button. And the best part is that the SOC readiness assessment feature is built into the application, which means you don’t shell out extra greenbacks to get yourself assessed.
Srividhya Karthik works as a Content Lead at Sprinto. She hopes to simplify compliance and make it interesting with the power of content. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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