A Readiness Assessment in general is an evaluation process that suggests whether or not an organization is compliant with a specific standard/regulation. The assessment helps determine gaps in security controls and demonstrates the effectiveness of controls to achieve compliance. The assessment works as a guide to identify and address the potential gaps in controls. The readiness assessment basically works as a test run for organizations looking to achieve compliance. So, those organizations looking to achieve SOC2 Compliance must first undergo a SOC2 Readiness Assessment. So, let us today understand what is SOC2 readiness assessment and why is it important.
What is SOC2 Readiness Assessment?
SOC2 Audit is critical for an organization looking to achieve compliance. Preparing for an audit is critical and knowing what to anticipate before an official SOC 2 audit is essential. So, this is when SOC2 Readiness Assessment helps address this issue. A SOC 2 readiness assessment is a kind of mock test of your organization’s formal SOC2 Audit. It is a kind of test run that helps the organization determine its readiness against the SOC2 requirements.
SOC2 Readiness Assessment will help the organization identify gaps and address the issues before the formal audit. The test is essential, especially for those Service Organizations that are new to the AICPA SOC2 Audit. Moreover, undergoing a SOC2 Readiness assessment demonstrates the organization’s proactive measures to ensure the success of their formal SOC2 Audit.
Why Conduct SOC2 Readiness Assessment?
SOC 2 readiness assessment helps organizations determine their current security posture against the most important reporting requirements of the SOC 2 framework. Performing a SOC2 Readiness Assessment before the formal SOC2 Audit allows the organization to work on identified control failures and fix the gaps. This prevents the cost of audit failure and having a report that could raise red flags for the customers. The testing also uncovers human errors and also identifies controls that were not flagged as gaps during the internal assessment phase. The readiness assessment will help the organization fix the gaps and allow organizations to establish appropriate procedures and processes that must be in place.
It prepares the organization to implement the SOC2 Trust Service Principles that are essential for achieving SOC2 Attestation. Investing resources in SOC2 Readiness Assessment will give a good kick-start to your SOC2 Audit process and get your organization on the right track to compliance. Moreover, the assessment also helps reduce the risk of compliance failure and the risk of wasting resources on a failed SOC2 Audit. The assessment helps establish an appropriate process, procedure, and security controls in place for the success of the SOC2 Audit. Adequate audit preparation will ensure less scrutiny and will facilitate the SOC 2 certification much quicker.
How is SOC2 Readiness Assessment Conducted?
No matter whether an organization believes that they are ready for the final SOC 2 audit, they must still consider conducting a SOC2 Readiness Assessment prior to undergoing an official audit. Adequate preparation is the key to a smooth and successful audit process. SOC 2 readiness ensures that the policies, process, procedures, security controls, and relevant documentation are in place that the auditor may require during the audit process. Given below are the steps involved in conducting a SOC2 Readiness Assessment that organizations must be aware of when preparing for the audit.
The first step to the SOC2 readiness assessment is determining the scope of the audit. By this, we mean determining the areas that may be included in the audit. In the SOC2 readiness assessment, and scoping stage, organizations will be surprised to find that they need to include more systems and controls in scope than what they envisioned for the audit. In most cases, organizations fail to include systems and controls in their scope of the audit but the readiness assessment helps determine those gaps. The organization at this initial stage must also pay attention to the two types of SOC 2 reports and determine what applies to them.
The next stage after determining the scope is conducting an assessment to evaluate the controls in place against the SOC 2 Trust Service Principles/Criteria which is most relevant to your organization’s operations. This is to examine and verify whether the necessary controls are designed and operating effectively as per the requirements. The readiness assessment to be conducted by the organization’s internal team, or CPA must include the following process-
- Mapping existing controls against framework
The assessment must include mapping the existing controls established against the requirements to see if all the necessary and appropriate controls are in place. This should also include reviewing all the relevant documentation to the scope and control objectives identified in the SOC 2 framework that is in place and accurate. The assessment should also evaluate the existing security controls established and verify the effectiveness of those controls.
- Documenting gaps in security controls
Post the assessment and evaluation process the identified gaps must be listed and documented. These documents can be used as a reference for guidance in implementing additional security controls for fixing gaps in systems and processes.
- Identifying remediation plans
Every gap identified in the control environment must be addressed with a remediation plan. The remediation plans must include detailed steps and deliverables that meet the requirement.
Remediation should include actionable plans for addressing the gaps in systems. Post the assessment process, meetings should be held with parties relevant to the SOC2 for the remediation activities. This remediation process will help you perform better gap analysis and help address the gaps effectively. Mover, it will also help foster a culture of SOC 2 compliance throughout your organization among all parties involved directly and indirectly.
SOC 2 Readiness Assessment offers a great competitive advantage to Service Providers. It helps organizations align their security controls as per the SOC2 framework and requirements. Undergoing a SOC 2 Readiness Assessment and thereafter undergoing SOC 2 Audit will ensure a smooth journey for achieving the final attestation. This is because the readiness assessment process will involve reviewing controls and determining gaps.
This way the assessment will give you a sense of whether the internal controls are effective and whether the organization is on track for the audit against the required SOC2 framework. Knowing in advance about the gaps in compliance will prevent any possibility failure of SOC2 audit and save the organization’s time and money. This will help the organization stay ahead in the compliance process and ensure the organization achieves SOC2 Attestation.