Becoming SOC 2 compliant isn’t an overnight process, and that’s a good thing because SOC 2 involves making detailed, lasting enhancements to your security processes, which ultimately leads to a better InfoSec program and more reliable systems.
When considering how long SOC 2 takes to achieve, you need to consider the entire SOC 2 journey. Preparing for your SOC 2 audit is a vital phase of the process and takes up the majority of the time. To appreciate what’s involved in getting fully compliant, we need to consider the whole process, from planning to audit. In addition, it is important to keep in mind that SOC 2 is no one-time event, but rather an ongoing process.
For startups, assessing the whole process can be especially valuable. Firstly, because it helps you plan more effectively and understand how SOC 2 workflows work going forward. But also, more importantly, because carefully laying out your SOC 2 roadmap will help you to develop systems and processes that ultimately meet your business goals.
Haste makes (very costly) waste
Companies that don’t try to rush the process, and carefully map out their SOC 2 compliance, tend to have much better outcomes.
Of course, in the competitive SaaS space, time is of the essence. But that’s the point. Businesses that rush in without an effective plan invariably encounter delays and difficulties down the road. These cost time and money.
By contrast, businesses that develop a carefully thought-through plan build an excellent foundation that ensures they meet the highest standards of compliance for the long term.
The readiness assessment is one of the first steps in the SOC 2 compliance process. The readiness assessment enables you to identify gaps in your compliance and take the appropriate steps to address them.
The process consists of two main stages.
As the name implies, Gap Analysis assesses where your organization is and whether there are any identified gaps in your systems and controls that are keeping you from achieving SOC 2 compliance.
Once these gaps have been identified, guided by the detailed AICPA framework of relevant criteria, work can begin on remediating those gaps, assigning ownership, and deadlines.
The Remediation Period consists of implementing measures and fixing gaps identified in the Gap Analysis. The timeline of the Remediation Period depends on the scale of interventions required, starting from around 10 days up to 3 months.
Observation period and the audit
If you are undergoing Type II, you need to demonstrate that your SOC 2 controls in place are operating effectively.
In terms of SOC 2 Type II, there is a chosen period of 3 to12 months in which controls need to be observed whether they operate effectively. This is not an official rule, but it is advised for an observation period to be at least 6 months. During audit, controls and documentation are assessed only relating to this specified period.
Only now, consequent to the observation period of controls, is it time for the actual audit. At this stage, your chosen auditor will conduct the testing and reporting of these controls.
Building a foundation for SOC 2 success
SOC 2 compliance is an exhaustive, often complex, process that provides serious, enduring benefits to an organization if implemented correctly, but can really be a time and resource suck for teams. This is why so many SaaS companies are turning to compliance automation tools to streamline the SOC 2 compliance process, save their team tremendous amounts of time, enhance the business and gain a real competitive edge.