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How To Organize a SOC2 Report

In an era where data breaches and cybersecurity threats loom, both large and small organizations place a premium on securing their systems and customer information. Companies demonstrate their commitment to data security by obtaining a SOC 2 certification

This certification, issued by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), attests to an organization's ability to safeguard sensitive information. However, the road to obtaining a SOC 2 (Service Organization Control 2) certification has its challenges, and the key to success lies in the thorough organization of the SOC 2 report. This blog post will explore the steps and best practices for properly organizing a SOC 2 report.

Understanding the SOC 2 Framework

Before diving into the organization process, it's crucial to have a solid understanding of the SOC 2 framework. SOC 2 reports are based on the Trust Service Criteria, which include security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. Each criterion addresses specific aspects of a system's controls, emphasizing the importance of secure and reliable data handling practices.

1. Define Scope and Boundaries

The first step in organizing a SOC 2 report is defining the scope and boundaries of the audit. Identify the systems and services that fall within the report's scope, including any third-party vendors that play a role in the organization's data handling processes. Establishing these boundaries upfront will help streamline the audit process and ensure that all relevant controls are appropriately assessed.

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2. Develop a Detailed System Description

A comprehensive system description is the foundation of a SOC 2 report. This section outlines the architecture of the organization's systems, the flow of data, and the key components that contribute to the security and integrity of information.

It is essential to be explicit and transparent in detailing how the organization meets each Trust Service Criteria. This not only aids auditors in their assessment but also helps stakeholders understand the security measures in place.

3. Identify and Document Control Activities

The heart of a SOC 2 report lies in the documentation of control activities. Controls are the policies, procedures, and mechanisms implemented to ensure the security and integrity of data. Identifying and documenting controls that align with each Trust Service Criterion is essential. This may include measures such as access controls, encryption protocols, incident response plans, and regular security assessments.

Organize controls into logical groupings to make the report more digestible for auditors. Common groupings may include administrative controls, technical controls, and physical controls. Clearly map each control to the relevant Trust Service Criterion to demonstrate how the organization addresses the security concerns outlined in the framework.

4. Provide Evidence of Control Effectiveness

More than mere documentation of controls is required for a SOC 2 report. Auditors require tangible evidence that these controls are not only in place but are also effective in mitigating risks. Develop a system for collecting and organizing evidence, such as screenshots, log files, policy documents, and other artifacts that showcase the implementation and operation of each control.

Regularly update and maintain this evidence repository to ensure that it aligns with the current state of the organization's security practices. This proactive approach facilitates the audit process and enhances the organization's overall security posture.

5. Implement Change Management Processes

Given that organizations are dynamic and subject to changes, it's imperative to establish robust change management processes. Changes in systems, processes, or personnel can impact the effectiveness of controls. Document and communicate these changes promptly, and ensure the SOC 2 report reflects the most up-to-date information.

Implement version control for the SOC 2 report to track changes over time. This ensures that auditors can easily identify modifications made between different reporting periods. Annotate any alterations to the system description, control activities, or evidence to provide context and facilitate a smooth audit experience.

6. Conduct Regular Internal Assessments

Organizations should conduct regular internal assessments before undergoing an official SOC 2 audit. These assessments serve as a dress rehearsal, allowing the organization to identify gaps, address issues, and refine its processes before the audit occurs. Internal assessments also provide an opportunity to test the effectiveness of controls and ensure that the evidence is readily available and well-documented.

In these assessments, engage internal teams in a cross-functional manner, including IT, security, and compliance. This collaborative approach ensures that various perspectives are considered and potential weaknesses are addressed comprehensively. Document the results of internal assessments and use them as a basis for continuous improvement.

7. Establish Incident Response and Remediation Protocol

Having a well-defined incident response plan is critical in the unfortunate event of a security incident. SOC 2 auditors will assess the preventive measures in place and the organization's ability to detect and respond to security events. Clearly outline incident response and remediation protocols, detailing the steps taken to investigate, contain, eradicate, and recover from security incidents.

Regularly test and update these protocols to adapt to evolving threats and technologies. Demonstrating a proactive approach to incident response satisfies SOC 2 requirements and enhances the organization's overall cybersecurity resilience.

8. Document Third-Party Relationships

Many organizations rely on third-party vendors for various services in today's interconnected business landscape. It's essential to document and evaluate these relationships concerning SOC 2 compliance. Identify the third-party vendors that impact the security of your systems and data, and document the controls in place to manage these relationships, including communication channels.

Communicate expectations to third-party vendors regarding security standards and compliance requirements. Regularly assess the security practices of these vendors and update the documentation accordingly. A robust third-party management process contributes to SOC 2 compliance and mitigates risks associated with external dependencies.

9. Maintain a SOC 2 Compliance Calendar

SOC 2 compliance is an ongoing process that requires continuous attention and effort. Establish a compliance calendar that outlines key milestones, deadlines, and recurring activities related to SOC 2 reporting. This calendar should include internal assessments, control testing, documentation updates, and other activities essential for maintaining compliance.

Regularly review and update the compliance calendar to reflect changes in the organization's systems, processes, or regulatory landscape. This proactive approach ensures that SOC 2 compliance remains a priority throughout the year rather than just leading up to the audit period.

10. Engage with Auditors Effectively

When the time comes for the official SOC 2 audit, effective communication with auditors is crucial. To facilitate a smooth and efficient audit process, provide auditors with access to the necessary documentation, evidence, and personnel. Be prepared to explain the rationale behind control implementations and provide context for deviations from standard practices.

Establish a designated point of contact within the organization to liaise with auditors and address any inquiries promptly. Proactively communicate changes, challenges, or concerns to auditors throughout the audit process. This collaborative approach fosters a positive relationship between the organization and the audit team, contributing to a successful SOC 2 report.


Organizing a SOC 2 report requires a strategic and proactive approach. By defining scope, documenting controls, providing evidence of effectiveness, and engaging in regular internal assessments, organizations can navigate the SOC 2 compliance landscape with confidence. 

Establishing robust change management processes, incident response protocols, and third-party relationship documentation further enhances an organization's ability to meet the Trust Service Criteria.

Maintaining a SOC 2 compliance calendar and engaging with auditors are essential to a successful SOC 2 journey. Ultimately, SOC 2 compliance is not just a one-time effort; it's an ongoing commitment to data security and integrity.  Collectively, these elements contribute to a thorough, transparent, and successful SOC 2 compliance journey, helping organizations build trust with their clients and stakeholders regarding their commitment to data security and integrity.  

Through continuous improvement and a dedication to best practices, organizations can achieve SOC 2 certification and bolster their overall cybersecurity posture in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

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