The most important thing you can do to pass a SOC audit is be prepared.
Having good operations within your organization and working closely with your audit team can make all the difference.
Here are eight ways to help yourself be prepared:
Recognize that you are not experts in SOC audits, nor should you be, which is why you should hire a professional. High quality audit firms, like Wipfli, generally provide front-end education to help you understand what the SOC audit process is, who is involved, what is required, how long it takes and, most importantly, whether SOC1 or SOC2 more appropriately fits your facts and circumstances.
Review the standards and requirements for a SOC audit (also known as an exam) so you know what is expected of you. The standards allow auditors to apply professional skepticism and judgment to ensure the validity of the process.
Be an educated consumer. Research all you can about SOC audits and share with your colleagues so they can develop an understanding of what is happening and why. The more your people know, the better prepared your organization will be.
Make sure you have documented policies and procedures by conducting an internal review. Since an audit is designed to determine if those controls are functioning properly, you can’t afford any gaps. An internal review should cover all core processes and procedures, plus all employee manuals.
A professional will conduct a Readiness Assessment with you so you can understand the process, what kinds of questions are asked, what expectations are placed on you, what kind of proof you need to provide, etc. Your audit team can work with you until you feel ready to proceed with the actual audit.
Be ready to respond to your audit team, who will be making significant requests of your time and resources. A lack of responsiveness can contribute to audit failures. The more quickly you answer audit requests for materials, documents, emails, or meetings, the more quickly the exam will go.
An audit of controls is based on testing evidence, and one or two missing pieces can hold up an entire audit. To better prepare you and keep an audit from being derailed, your audit team will help you in understanding what the evidence is, what they do with it, and how they separate the materials you prepare (“prepared by client”) from the work they do with it.
The best way to pass a SOC audit is to stay focused. Everyone is busy doing their everyday job, so paying attention to the SOC audit can be challenging. During the audit, put time on your calendar every day to address the SOC exam effort, and stick to it. If you commit to doing something, big or small, every day, incremental progress will make the job less overwhelming. Make it a priority so the audit moves consistently toward completion.
How Wipfli can help
With a clear, thorough, and collaborative approach, experienced Wipfli auditors work with clients to consult and document processes that adhere to guidelines for the various types of SOC examinations. Contact us to get started.
Interested in learning more? Download our SOC examinations guide or check out our SOC articles and webinars.