Does this sound familiar?
After much consideration, a business executive decides that getting a System and Organization Controls (SOC) report would be a great business differentiator. She’s convinced that it will set the organization above the competition, prove to existing customers that they take the information entrusted to them seriously, and add value to business development discussions.
She takes the idea to her IT counterpart before moving forward, only to be surprised to learn that IT isn’t on board. The IT department doesn’t believe that the organization needs a SOC report.
If this anecdote hit close to home, know that the scenario is far more common than you might think. The truth is that technology leaders often push back on the idea of their company going through a SOC exam.
Don’t be concerned or discouraged. There are certain misconceptions your IT team may have about SOC reports that lead them to this thinking, but there are ways you can ease their minds and—hopefully—convince them that they, and the entire organization, would benefit greatly from a SOC examination.
Reasons Why Your IT Team Might Not Be Excited About a SOC Exam
If you’re already convinced that a SOC report is a positive next step for your organization, you may be wondering why your IT group is pushing back on having the exam done. There are a few common, key reasons why IT could be hesitant to take on a SOC exam. We’ve outlined a few considerations to help you put yourself in their shoes.
First, remember that a SOC exam will be looking closely at your existing controls, processes, and procedures—many of which are overseen by the IT department. When a SOC exam is suggested, your IT team may feel like their work is being questioned and critiqued. On the other hand, they may feel so confident in their work that they may be offended at the idea of getting an outside opinion. Some teams feel as if their peers on the business side are trying to expose their shortcomings through the evaluation. It can feel very personal.
Another common reason has more to do with resource availability. SOC exams are intensive and time-consuming, especially for IT teams. Preparing for the examination and fulfilling the auditor’s requests can be a substantial amount of work for the technology group, who may already be overwhelmed and overworked.
While these are two of the most common sources of resistance that we see, you may want to take some time to ask questions that can get to the root of your team’s concerns—so that you can most effectively alleviate them. Instead of abandoning a SOC report, this could be the right opportunity to assure your IT team that a SOC report is for their benefit.
How to Assure Your IT Team that a SOC Report is to Their Benefit
Despite their hesitation, your IT team is the group that could benefit most from a SOC engagement. Discussing the following benefits with them will go a long way to convincing them of the value and benefit of the audit.
Emphasizes the value of IT
The goal of a SOC exam isn’t to expose the IT team or throw them under the bus, and it shouldn’t be a painful experience.
The goal is to identify processes and procedures that need to be reworked or refined and to highlight those items that are being done well. It’s never about the work of an individual, but instead, the report provides a guide for the good work that IT is doing and offers a roadmap on how it can be improved.
Provides opportunities to learn and grow
Because the goal is for the organization to get better, a SOC report could open opportunities for career growth and training. IT has the potential to gain new and additional experience and to have an even greater impact on the organization within their respective roles.
Defines what IT should—and shouldn’t—be doing
Yes, a SOC report will point to ways that the entire organization, including IT, can improve and what they should be doing.
However, it can also bring to light tasks that IT is doing that they shouldn’t be and that are taking them away from their core work. This is a chance to appropriately re-assign administrative tasks or other work that is outside the team’s scope to others so that the IT group can focus on the right work.
Accelerates ideas and suggestions from IT
Many times, a SOC report includes support for initiatives that the IT team has already recommended in the past. Maybe they made suggestions that were intended to help secure systems and improve processes, but the business resources weren’t there to support it.
The report focuses the organization and prioritizes those projects that the IT group has likely already recommended, resulting in the right staffing and funding for the department to complete them.
Provides a competitive differentiator
A SOC report is an asset to the business as a whole, showing customers the value that your organization puts on their information and data and assuring that you take their trust seriously. This goes a long way to retain the customers you have and to acquire new ones—and that is good for everyone.
It’s not unreasonable to think that an IT group could be leery of a SOC examination. On its surface, it appears to be a tool that will be used to uncover shortcomings and missteps by IT.
In reality, the IT group may benefit more than almost any other department as a result of a SOC exam. A SOC report could result in an increased budget and the resource allocations that they have been asking for.
With the opportunity to address shortcomings in processes and procedures, and the blessing of the business leaders to divert or hire resources for the improvements, IT leaders may become the fiercest advocates for SOC examinations.
Contact us today for more information about how a SOC report can improve your security and your standing with your clients.