No one ever looks forward to a compliance audit. However, there are steps you can take to alleviate some of the pains felt before an audit, and it all comes down to proper preparation. By building compliance processes into your internal structure, audits can become relatively painless - as well as beneficial for both your customers and employees.
We are not debating that a compliance audit is an easy project, it’s definitely not. It often involves a deep dive into both internal and external compliance risks and processes. Determining which rules, regulations and standards your organization needs to comply with can often feel overwhelming.
Going for a certification to demonstrate compliance excellence, like ISO 27001, HITRUST or SOC2, is enough to make the most confident manager break out in a cold sweat. Assessors and auditors get granular, and each looks at compliance in their own way. The ultimate goal of any compliance certification or audit is to pass. The best way to do so is with proper preparation.
Compliance Audit Prep Tips
- Examine your last risk analysis results or previous audits. Have you corrected the identified risks? If you haven’t fixed those yet and are going into a compliance audit? Stop. Correct. Move forward.
- Pull together the pieces of the audit’s focus. That can include documentation on software updates, backup schedules, training and outcomes, asset inventory and access logs (physical access and sensitive data access).
- Break down the audit scope to manageable pieces. You may be going far broader than needed.
- Decide before you get started how and how quickly you’re going to fix any issues so they don’t tank your audit goals.
- Determine how will the audit affect the bottom line. Will the audit increase revenue because you win a new client or reduce costs? An audit is an opportunity to improve the way your company operates.
Pulling together all of the operational pieces that a compliance audit touches is a huge, time-consuming process. However, regulatory compliance can be a differentiator for your company - an opportunity to demonstrate to your customer that you are operating in a secure manner and can be trusted to protect their sensitive information.
One way to simplify the process and ensure that you are always audit ready is to use a workflow management platform. With Ostendio’s MyVCM, every action is documented, audit workflows are automated and operationalized so you’ll always have the evidence you need to prepare for your audit at your fingertips.
Keep in mind, too, that done once isn’t done forever. Make the audit prep process part of your ongoing compliance program. Most certifications require you to demonstrate, regularly, that you’re still up to par. The secret is to be prepared.