What Makes a SOC 2 Audit Successful?

by Sarah Harvey / June 26th, 2019

What happens after you receive your SOC 2 report? You’ve just used many resources – maybe even some that you were strapped to allocate – to go through a gap analysis, remediate the findings, and then begin the SOC 2 Type I and/or Type II audit. It’s a massive project that you should be proud to finish…but what now? What makes a SOC 2 audit successful? How do you make the most out of your compliance? Let’s take a look at four ways to prove that your SOC 2 audit was successful using one of our client’s SOC 2 audit journey as an example.

iPost’s SOC 2 Compliance Journey

iPost is a flexible and dynamic marketing automation solution for email and mobile needs, built for marketers by marketers. Like many others in the marketing industry, iPost was being asked by clients and prospects for evidence of their commitment to data security. When iPost decided to pursue SOC 2 compliance, it felt nerve-wracking to begin such a big project. After completing a SOC 2 Type I audit, though, iPost’s CEO, Cameron Kane, said, “The real value in the SOC 2 audit is that we’ve become a better company. The audit forced us to grow, and that’s not an easy thing – but we did it.”

So, how did iPost know that their SOC 2 audit was successful? How can you know that your SOC 2 audit was successful? We’ll give you four key ways.

How Do You Prove Your SOC 2 Audit was Successful?

1. C-Level Support

During a SOC 2 audit, it’s incredibly important that C-level executives and stakeholders understand and support the audit and the organization’s overall information security needs. Without their support, how can any policies or procedures be implemented? Who will approve funding? Who will care about the outcome of the audit?

iPost’s CEO supported and understood the SOC 2 audit and its purpose, and that made all the difference in making their SOC 2 audit successful. Kane and his team interacted with an Information Security Specialist and the President of KirkpatrickPrice, Joseph Kirkpatrick. When Kane met with Kirkpatrick, the tone for the SOC 2 audit was set: Kane knew that it would be a long process, but also understood that the auditor’s intention was not to find sensitive areas and pour salt in the wound. Instead, the auditor was there to help, point, and direct iPost into stronger security practices. Right away, iPost’s CEO knew that their SOC 2 engagement wasn’t going to be stereotypical audit and helped his team understand that there was no reason to be guarded. Kane knew that the KirkpatrickPrice team and iPost team were all working towards the same goal: to make iPost the best organization it can be. With that C-level support from iPost, it made their SOC 2 audit much more successful.

2. Seeing Real Change Within Your Company

SOC 2 audits are meant to strengthen and enhance your business, yet many organizations are fearful of the process, rather than seeing the benefits. At KirkpatrickPrice, we believe a SOC 2 audit is successful when you see real change at your company. This means that the audit isn’t something to be checked off of a list every year, or just another IT thing to include in the budget. Instead, the audit is an opportunity to improve your business processes and organization as a whole. At iPost, almost immediately following their SOC 2 Type I audit, they already felt a change within their employees. Phishing attempts were being reported like never before and their procedures were being followed; all because they had buy-in from their staff.

3. Using Compliance as a Competitive Advantage

When an organization leverages compliance achievements as a competitive edge, they are taking full advantage of the achievement. After all, you just used a lot of time and resources to complete a SOC 2 audit – why not use it in marketing materials and sales conversations?

One of the reasons why a SOC 2 attestation was so valuable to iPost is because it provided them with bigger, better sales opportunities. The opportunities are endless when you can demonstrate that you care about your customers’ data and have the evidence to prove it. iPost knows their competitors and others in their industry are being pushed towards a SOC 2 audit, and their proactivity has paid off. When they received their SOC 2 report, they were immediately able to close deals that depended on a SOC 2 attestation, use that achievement in sales conversations, and incorporate it into their marketing strategy.

4. Continuing the SOC 2 Journey

Many of our clients have the same feeling after completing an audit for the first time: it was a difficult process, but one that helped their company. After completing a SOC 2 Type I audit, iPost headed towards the next step: a Type II audit. They know that the next audit will still be difficult, but by following remediation guidance, they plan to become as prepared as possible for the SOC 2 Type II audit. It’s important to note that SOC 2 reports (Type I or Type II) are valid for a 12-month period. Industry standard is to engage in an audit annually to validate that your controls are still operating effectively. This may seem like a daunting new process to take on, but many of our clients actually begin to enjoy going through an annual audit. They know what to expect, how to use the Online Audit Manager, how to build a stronger information security program, and can show their auditor improvements they’ve made year-over-year.

When asked what he would say to other organizations considering pursuing SOC 2 compliance, Kane said, “First, it’s not going to be as bad as you think it’s going to be, even if you feel strapped for time and resources. Second, you really can use it in a sales environment. Lastly, your auditor is not there to ‘get you’ – they’re there to help you!”

Are you considering pursuing SOC 2 compliance, but don’t know if it applies to your business or where to start the process? Contact us today to talk through your compliance objectives.

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