[Checklist] How to prepare for an ISO audit

by Brad Garland

Being audited for your ISO quality certification (whether to acquire such or maintain it) can be a stressful experience for many companies and teams. It instills many worries and is usually viewed as a negative process--but it’s far better to remember that it’s performed to ensure the quality of your internal processes to improve your customer care and sales performances. This is especially true of the ISO 27001 process, which evaluates a company’s performance in cybersecurity systems and processes. 

Achieving and maintaining your ISO 27001 certification should be an ongoing process that is never finished and constantly improving. There are several steps that can be taken to better prepare for an ISO audit and lower internal stress levels concerning certification in the process.

1. Determine the Standards

Foremost, it’s best to understand the business, management, and performance standards that the ISO certification is based on. After all, if your team is unaware of everything that’s involved in the certification and auditing process, how will they even know if current processes are up to the standards? 

For instance, the ISO 9001 management principles are based on the following elements:

  • Customer focus
  • Leadership
  • Involvement of people
  • Process approach
  • Systematic management approach
  • Continual improvement
  • Factual approach to decision making
  • Mutually beneficial supplier relationship

The ISO organization makes its numerous industry standards widely available, and companies should refer to these when preparing for an ISO audit. 

2. Perform an Internal Audit

Once your company understands the benchmark for quality certification, the company should hold in-depth, rigorous internal audits of current processes and team roles. When an audit is being performed, not only will you want the data you’ve gathered during an internal audit to present to the certifiers, but it will also be invaluable in fixing any issues that the audit then uncovers. 

It is highly suggested that you establish an ongoing schedule of internal security audits, the associated tasks, and have a small team in charge of performing these to ensure they occur on a regular basis. These internal audits should also be taken wholly seriously by everyone involved; if they are disregarded, significant data protection issues could be overlooked or remain unmanaged that might negate one’s ISO certification when the real audit occurs.  

3. Prepare Your Team

Once an internal audit has been performed, your team should identify any major issues and review them. Management should make everyone aware of the results and denote the individual tasks now required to bring one’s cybersecurity processes up to industry standards. 

Management needs to create an action plan based on the review and establish the objectives for audit preparation.

4. Make Necessary Changes

Finally, based on the audit standards analysis and internal review, your team should implement the changes needed to meet the upcoming audit requirements. Don’t forget that any corrective measures that are established must also be tested and reviewed to make sure they haven’t introduced further security issues that need correcting. 

Performing the internal audit also will give you a chance to show the auditors that your system is capable of detecting security performance issues and containing them before they’re able to become larger threats.

Are you worried about an upcoming ISO 27001 quality audit? Does your team feel under-prepared for the evaluation, or are you confused by what exactly the audit will cover? Vala Secure can be there to help analyze any technology or security system gaps that might threaten your ISO certification when it comes to network defense and customer data protection. Contact us to determine how our proactive ISO 27001 quality audit can prepare you for the real thing in a stress-free way!