,Should You Work Towards Your SOC 2 Certification With a Consultant?
Most people don’t know what SOC 2 is or how to best prepare to get their SOC 2 certification. The massive amount of conflicting information out there definitely doesn’t make it any easier to understand.
SOC 2 certification can feel pretty confusing. I’m sure that’s at least part of the reason why you’re here.
To find out, we interviewed professionals and SaaS leaders (outside of Tugboat Logic) who have done exactly that. They have either led or worked on a SOC 2 readiness project with a consultant across different industries, like healthcare, fintech, and retail.
You’ll hear about the interviewees’ first-hand experiences and what they think are the benefits and challenges of working towards SOC 2 with a consultant.
Benefits of Preparing for a SOC 2 Certification Audit Using a Consultant
What is most important to consider when thinking about starting a SOC 2 readiness project in-house? Here’s what the interviewees had to say:
What are some of the benefits of working towards SOC 2 with a consultant? Here’s what the interviewees had to say.
Access to SOC 2 Certification Content
Most consultants will provide you with a predefined set of SOC 2 controls and policy templates, which saves you a lot of time. You can then add necessary customizations to your policies and controls with the guidance of your consultant.
Consultants will also often provide you with instructions on how to implement your policies and SOC 2 controls within your specific organization.
Your consultant may additionally provide you with educational SOC 2 content that you can share with your security team and broader organization.
Access to Industry-Specific Audit Expertise
You can find a SOC 2 consultant that has not only navigated the terrain of getting SOC 2 certifications before, but also understands the unique path to passing SOC 2 audits within your industry. This is crucial as many industries, like healthcare or fintech, have unique SOC 2 considerations that need to be reflected in SOC 2 policies and controls.
A consultant with SOC 2 experience in your industry can give you a SOC 2 certification roadmap. They can also provide a checklist that fully accounts for your business and industry specifics.
Good consultants with the right expertise also have first-hand knowledge of what it takes to pass a SOC 2 audit in your industry. They’ll complete your gap and readiness assessment for you to make sure you have everything in order to successfully pass the audit finish line.
Challenges of Working Towards a SOC 2 Certification Using a Consultant
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits, let’s go over what challenges the interviewees experienced working on a SOC 2 readiness project with a consultant.
Little Automation: More Manual Work and Time
The most cited challenge of preparing for a SOC 2 certification audit with a consultant is the amount of manual work involved. It’s important to note the more manual work, the longer your SOC 2 journey will take. This can make your SOC 2 project very expensive because as we all know, time is money.
Working with a consultant involves slightly less manual work than preparing for your SOC 2 audit in-house due to the templates discussed in the previous section.
But, it is still significantly more manual work and time than when you work with a SOC 2 compliance software because of the lack of automation.
If you choose to prepare for your SOC 2 audit with a consultant, here is some of the manual work involved in the process:
Pulling Evidence: No Integrations
To get your SOC 2 certification, you have to show your auditor evidence that your SOC 2 controls are securing your business operations in a way that meets SOC 2 requirements.
This is why every SOC 2 compliance software has some kind of integration capabilities to automate evidence collection. Integrations can connect to, and pull any necessary information or data from, another software (like AWS, GitHub or Google Drive) automatically, and on an ongoing basis.
Tugboat Logic’s platform has over 50 integrations that cover over 100 unique evidence collection tasks. We have seen customers decrease their audit readiness time by over 60% using our integrations and wide variety of other automations.
As Mitul Sampat, Technical Specialist at CitiusTech said, “a huge constraint when we prepared for our SOC 2 audit with a consultant was not having access to integrations. We had to take screenshots of evidence every week and attach it to the right control.
Our consultant was also not familiar with our organization, tech stack, and lacked understanding of our overall workflow as a SaaS platform. This made for a lot of extra work on our end. It made the project way more expensive than it had to be.”
Building Sales and Security Reports
Prospective customers will often ask you to provide documentation around your security practices and environment. This ensures you are a secure business partner. Internal stakeholders will also often ask you for reports that highlight your SOC 2 progress or security environment.
Each report is unique. So, without a compliance software, you’ll have to put each of these reports together manually. A SOC 2 compliance software however will create a report with whatever data or insights you need with a click of a button.
Vendor & Risk Assessments
To meet SOC 2 requirements, you will have to do vendor risk assessments before doing business with any vendor. You’ll also have to create and complete a risk assessment before your SOC 2 audit. Risk assessments must account for all possible risks associated with your business and their remedies.
Without a compliance software, you may have to do both your vendor and risk assessments manually.
Learn more about how compliance software automates this process here:
Security Awareness Training
In order to fill SOC 2 requirements, your employees will have to go through some kind of security awareness training. Most SOC 2 compliance software vendors provide training as a part of their offering. However, if you choose to work with a consultant you will have to find and assess a vendor to do this training for you. Or, complete it yourself.
Did you know you have to do a SOC 2 audit every year? SOC 2 auditors will assess your SOC 2 policies every 12 months. They want to ensure your polidies have been updated to reflect your current business operations.
Your SOC 2 project leader will additionally have to ensure your SOC 2 stakeholders are regularly updating your security policies. And, they will have to show every employee “acknowledged” every security policy and policy update each year. This is all done manually without a compliance software too.
See how compliance software saves you time in this clip from our “Securing the Startup Tech Stack” webinar with Blake Brannon (Chief Strategy Officer at OneTrust), Cailin Sullivan (Security Engineer at Appcues) and Joe Sullivan (Chief Security Officer at Cloudfare).
Difficulty in Communication and Organization
Managing communications and documentation across your organization and the consultancy can also be challenging. Mitul Sampat, Technical Specialist at CitiusTech, explains why:
“When you work with a consultant, you’ll quickly realize that their time is prioritized over yours. We had 25 control owners and 3 consultants that had to be present at every meet. Trying to effectively communicate with or even find a meeting time for a group of that size via email was a nightmare. Especially as we all had varying priorities.
I can tell you there were a lot of rescheduling meetings, wasted time, missed instructions and pushing back deadlines.”
Every SOC 2 consultant is different, and everyone’s experiences with SOC 2 consultants are different. Some businesses get great mileage working with SOC 2 consultants. This stage of your SOC 2 journey is really about finding what strategies are best for your business’s current priorities, goals and workflow.
More Money Spent in Upfront Costs
Consultants bill you on an hourly basis. So, when they push back a task or miss a meeting, it doesn’t just mean more time spent on your audit readiness project. It additionally means more money spent, too.
How much a consultant will cost you is heavily dependent on the size of your organization. But, the average rate for consultants is 100 USD/hour. It can get pretty pricey very quickly.
Here are some of the ways using SOC 2 compliance software saves you money in up-front costs:
No Centralized System of Record
Without software, your SOC 2 documentation will be all over the place. Your policies may be in Google Docs, controls in spreadsheets and then dozens of folders of screenshots for evidence. This can be challenging to keep track of.
“A huge portion of any SOC 2 project is project management. Without software however it’s all very manual. It is a lot of sending reminder emails, follow ups, calendar reminders and chasing people down for evidence tasks. This leaves lots of room for inaccuracy.” – Aditya Malhotra, Chief Information Security Officer at Ness Digital Engineering
The Tugboat Logic platform is designed to be your centralized “system of record” for your SOC 2 and InfoSec program.
Challenging Data Analysis
Working towards your SOC 2 is a great way to gain further insights about your organization. This is also true for any other InfoSec attestation. Your SOC 2 process should show you how to make your business operations secure. But, also more efficient.
In order to do this, you need to be able to get meaningful insights from your SOC 2 journey. Mitul Sampat, Technical Specialist at CitiusTech, explains:
“Let’s say I wanted to know how many people have access to a data set for a certain set of customers. In healthcare, this is an important inquiry. When you ask a consultant for that information, they will just send you raw data. But, you can’t gain any insights from that data. Like, which of those people have been through security training or have access to admin privileges? A consultant can’t give you that kind of analysis.
Compliance software will provide you with those meaningful insights in real time. While showing you how to use those insights to improve your processes and overall security posture. It will also monitor your SOC 2 project and notify you when issues occur long before your audit.“
Your SOC 2 strategy should be able to implement, monitor and maintain a security posture your customers will be proud of.
Tugboat Logic and SOC 2 Compliance Monitoring
If you still have questions about preparing for your SOC 2 certification audit with a consultant, or using any other method, our team of experts is always here to help.
If you like the sound of trying an automated SOC 2 software that saves you time and money while giving you access to first-in-class security expertise, grab a free trial of our platform.