If you’re researching how to get a SOC 2 certified and pass your audit, you’ve probably run across a huge range of claims about how long that will take (you may have seen people say anywhere from two weeks to two years).
The real pain point here: how long will it take to get SOC 2 certified for your company?
The honest answer is that it will depend. The big factors will be how ready your company is for SOC 2 and what kind of audit you need. Also, it’s important to know that “SOC 2 certification” is a colloquial term and usually companies that are pursuing SOC 2 compliance are using the phrase as shorthand for receiving their SOC 2 Type 2 attestation report from a CPA auditing firm. (Which also explains why you may have seen the term bleed into some vendors’ websites and advertising.)
The time it takes will depend on the size of your company, the resources on hand, and how prepared you are once you determine that you need SOC 2 certification. It will also depend on what kind of SOC 2 audit you need, Type 1 or Type 2 (the first one can be less than a month, though Type 2 takes a minimum of three months and usually 6-12 months to prove a long period of ongoing compliance).
SOC 2 Preparation Timeline: Your Best, Average, and Worst Cases
Let’s dive into the scenarios when getting SOC 2 ready could take about two weeks, three months, or a year.
Best Case: Your best-case scenario to get ready to start an audit is two weeks. In this scenario, you’ve built in a security program from the very start, because you knew a SOC 2 audit was in your near future. Your tech stack is securely configured, you already have all the right policies, and you have every SOC 2 control in place. If all you need to do is collect evidence and give your security controls a final review before calling the auditor — two weeks might be realistic for you.
Average Case: We find it typically takes about three months to prepare for a SOC 2 audit. (But could certainly be a little longer, depending on your resources.) Many companies don’t start down the SOC 2 path until a customer requests — or demands — to see an audit report. This can set off a scramble to get SOC 2 ready and start your audit ASAP. When SOC 2 compliance is a top priority, that helps ensure your timeline doesn’t get drawn out.
Worst Case: This is when it can take a year or longer just to get everything configured properly, with all your security policies and procedures in place. At first glance, a company could estimate for a best or average case SOC 2 prep timeline. But either of those can become a much longer timeline since implementing new security controls can uncover hard-to-fix issues that need remediation, rooted in your tech stack, product, or even operations. In addition to such bumps in the road, one common factor that slows down SOC 2 readiness is the bandwidth of your team. If security is only a part-time responsibility for team members, it’s often one of the responsibilities that fall to the side. Not having the right tools and doing everything in spreadsheets? That will really slow you down too. If this is the case, your team should start immediately working on SOC 2 as a long-term project, making sure you have milestones set up so that your certification goal isn’t forgotten. Ideally, you’re able to put in place enough security controls to satisfy your customers, until you can complete your audit.
Nailing down a realistic timeline based on the unique factors in your business often takes some discovery with an expert. That’s why when we work with clients, many choose to lean on both the Carbide platform and the expertise of our dedicated security experts to help identify issues early, prioritize critical tasks, get you a realistic timeline, and ensure your implementation plan stays on track.
There are some situations where an automated tool can get you 90% of the way in a project, but without intervention at the right moment, the last 10% could present an unexpected roadblock. Expert human advisors and project management assistance (like we offer in our platform) can be the special sauce that brings together a SOC 2 readiness project, making sure your team doesn’t find themselves stretched for time or overwhelmed.
If you’re researching SOC 2 for your business we’ve covered the four primary stages of a SOC 2 timeline in a previous post. That can give you even more details about what goes into becoming a SOC 2 certified company.
Will Getting Compliant Take Two Weeks for Your Company?
Ultimately, whether it takes two weeks will depend on your company and the moment you start the clock. Two weeks from today? Or two weeks after your security controls are finally in place and verified?
Answering this question about your SOC 2 timeline requires honestly assessing your situation and knowing how ready you really are. You need to know going in if the auditors will be requesting to see a snapshot of your security program, or evidence and logs covering the past six months. If you’re not ready now and need to pull evidence from over a period of months showing a properly functioning security program, then scheduling and passing an audit obviously will take some time. And likely more than two weeks. So be clear with yourself and your team about setting your timeline expectations at a reasonable place based on your resources.
If you need that audit report ASAP, then choosing the right automated tools and getting expert support will help you understand your timeline, stay on track, and get SOC 2 certified faster. With the right setup, it’s possible to save your team hours, weeks, or even months of work preparing for your SOC 2 audit.
Making SOC 2 Compliance Easier with Carbide
We know what a time-consuming ordeal achieving SOC 2 compliance can be — that’s why we have SOC 2 controls, policies, tasks, and planning tools built into the Carbide platform. With a custom-generated security program based on the SOC 2 framework and your unique business operations, you can quickly start checking off items on your SOC 2 to-do list. Talk with us about our mission to make SOC 2 readiness as painless as possible.