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There is a lot of noise coming from some compliance automation vendors that claim you can become SOC 2-compliant (or even more vaguely, “audit-ready”) in mere weeks, with no heavy lifting required. As any trustworthy auditor will tell you, buying into this hype is disingenuous at best and business-threatening at worst. Your best path to SOC 2 compliance is paved with deliberate, measured, thoughtful steps.

When pursuing SOC 2 compliance, remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare.

Despite what you may hear, read, or see elsewhere, taking an “ASAP” approach to SOC 2 compliance is unwise and unlikely to succeed. It may save you time, money, or both in the short term. However, those short-term savings will pale compared to the longer-term challenges to your compliance, cybersecurity, and overall business operations created by your accelerated approach.

Take Your Time, Do It Right

Instead, you need to ensure your approach to SOC 2 compliance is sufficiently comprehensive to provide a firm foundation for your company’s core policies and processes today and tomorrow. The first step toward this goal is a thorough assessment of those policies and processes’ current state and the technologies that enable and support them.

This critical step alone can take weeks or longer, depending on the size of your organization, the complexity of your IT estate, and how well your current policies and processes are defined and documented. Add at least another few weeks if you have not yet chosen and forged a good working relationship with an auditor.

The results of your self-assessment will likely identify necessary changes or additions to your controls, your technologies, or both. Unfortunately, these are also likely to take weeks, especially if you need to evaluate or compare technology providers and their respective solutions.

Once these steps are completed, your organization is ready for SOC audit. Then you must decide which flavor SOC is best for your company’s current needs. While sustained SOC 2 compliance is your goal, it may make sense to begin with SOC 2 Type 1 rather than immediately going after SOC 2 Type 2. Your auditor should be able to help you make these choices and craft a practical path to full, continuous SOC 2 compliance.

SOC 2 compliance is too important to rush. Plan to devote three to six months to preparing and executing your first or next SOC 2 audit. This will give you enough time to avoid potentially compliance-defying obstacles, build a stronger relationship with your auditor, and prepare for achieving continuous compliance.

For more expert guidance to help you get SOC 2 compliance right, check out “SOC 2 Compliance: Q&A with an Audit Expert – Liam Collins” and the Trustero “Everything Compliance” interview series.