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How to Leverage Technology to Automate Control Assessments

The Challenge

The challenge for auditors of business control practices, like in SOC 1 and SOC 2 audits, is really understanding the business, knowing what to look for, and relating that to the relevant audit criteria. That’s compounded when there are multiple standards, multiple people involved, and auditors working across many clients. Even more so when it’s managed by emails, spreadsheets, and meetings over an extended period of time. It all leads to a mess of confusion, rework, and degraded audit quality.

In an ideal world, the client would map out their control activities to the related audit requirements in advance. But when they do, it’s almost always reworked by the auditor to put it into the more “correct” format required and to support their audit firms testing practices. In some cases, it’s the auditor documenting all of the controls, which puts a question mark over their independence. This is particularly challenging when it comes to the rise of SOC 1 and SOC 2 for tech businesses that often don’t have in-house experts in risk, controls, and compliance, and these standards aren’t well understood by the general practitioners and consultants.

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How Do We Tackle This Challenge?

The way to tackle this challenge head-on is to empower the client to map their control practices in a comprehensive, accurate, and auditor-friendly format. Through the Checkbox platform’s expert automation, audit firms can codify the control activities with a client guided assessment approach to identify what controls they have, and how they are applied in practice including the frequency, manual vs. automated, and various methods to achieve control objectives like the broad security practices for data loss prevention, for example.

The Checkbox GRC Solutions team has applied this approach for SOC 1 and SOC 2, whilst also mapping to other more prescribed standards like GDPR, PCI-DSS, ISO 27001, CCPA, and the CDR requirements for Open Banking. The benefit for the business is effective management of their control practices, and where applicable addressing multiple requirements without duplication. But the audit firms are the real winners, being able to onboard clients with a clear view of the controls to audit, what documentation to look for, how those controls address the objectives, and even draft testing procedures and audit documentation. It empowers audit consultants to spend more time following a risk-based review approach, building effective relationships, and feeding back valuable insights to continually improve the risk and control practices.

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