Tag Archives: ssae 16 report

What does Management Need to Provide the Auditors?

If you have never been audited before, as is the case with many service organizations, you are probably wondering what kind of documentation will I need to give the auditors? What will they do with it once they have it?

A high level explanation per the SSAE 16 Guidance:

(1) access to all information, such as records and documentation, including service
level agreements, of which management is aware that is relevant to the
description of the service organization’s system and the assertion;
(2) additional information that the service auditor may request from management for
the purpose of the examination engagement;
(3) unrestricted access to personnel within the service organization from whom the
service auditor determines it is necessary to obtain evidence relevant to the
service auditor’s engagement; and
(4) written representations at the conclusion of the engagement

Basically, you must give up anything needed by the service auditor that will permit them to attest to “Management’s description of the service organization’s system”, the main change associated with SSAE 16.

Many of the controls at your organization will be reliant upon documents such as service level agreements and subservice organization’s SSAE 16 reports. Controls will also require you to pass off policies and procedures, organizational charts, job descriptions, firewall configurations, and other internal documentation.

The most intrusive part of the SSAE 16 Review is that the auditors will need to talk to any and all of the employees that have a role in performing the controls being tested. Without that access, it would be impossible for the auditors to have a clear understanding of the processes when testing your controls. However, this shouldn’t be viewed as a negative, it will help your employees improve their processes in the future by gaining tips and insight from the auditors that will help them be better prepared for next year’s audit. Also, it will help clear up any potential findings or issues the auditors find, as in many cases there is no problem and an explanation is all that is needed, making the audit go MUCH smoother.

All of the documentation and information provided will never be seen by anyone other than the auditors performing the testing. The documentation is needed for the service auditors to assess the design and operating effectiveness of your controls. Once the testing and review phases are complete, your report will be issued and all that will be included is whether you either passed or failed that control, so don’t worry!

If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments section below and we will do our best to respond!

This information is also consistent with SSAE-18 which is effective as of May 1, 2017.

The biggest update in SSAE 18 as it relates to this post is a Company is now required to provide the auditor a detailed risk assessment based around key internal risks where there is potential for material misstatement and supporting controls.

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SOC 1 Report

A SOC 1 Report (System and Organization Controls Report) is a report on Controls at a Service Organization which are relevant to user entities’ internal control over financial reporting. The SOC1 Report is what you would have previously considered to be the standard SAS70, complete with a Type I and Type II reports, but falls under the SSAE 16 guidance (and soon to be SSAE 18).

Please see the following articles discussing the SSAE 16 guidance and additional information related to the SOC 1 (Type I and Type II) Reports:

In addition to the SOC 1 report which is restricted to controls relevant to an audit of a user entity’s financial statements, the SOC 2 and SOC 3 reports have been created to address controls relevant to operations and compliance and will be discussed in further detail in the future.

Please see the SOC 1 Reporting Guide page for additional information.

SOC 1 Report

A SOC 1 Report (System and Organization Controls Report) is a report on Controls at a Service Organization which are relevant to user entities’ internal control over financial reporting. The SOC1 Report is what you would have previously considered to be the standard SAS70 (or SSAE 16), complete with a Type I and Type II reports, but falls under the SSAE 18 guidance (as of May 1, 2017).
Please see the following articles discussing the SSAE 18 guidance and additional information related to the SOC 1 (Type I and Type II) Reports:

Below is a history of key changes made to the audit standard over time to enhance the overall audit and final report.

Differences between SAS 70, SSAE 16 and ISAE 3042:

  1. Management of the Service Organization will be required to provide the service auditor with a written assertion about the following, when performing either a Type I or Type II engagement, which the service auditor will then attest to:
    • The fairness of the presentation of the description of the service organization’s system;
    • The suitability of the design of the controls to achieve the related control objectives stated in the description; and
    • The operating effectiveness of those controls to achieve the related control objectives stated in the description (Type II Only)
  2. During the process of understanding the service organization’s system, the Service Auditor would be required to obtain information that would identify risks that the description of the service organization’s system is not fairly presented or that the control objectives stated in the description were not achieved due to intentional actions by service organization personnel.

SSAE 18 adds an additional set of requirements to further enhance SSAE 16 standard:

  1. Requires the inclusion of a Complementary Subservice Organization Controls section (similar to what is currently required for SOC 2).
  2. Requires the performance of a detailed Risk Assessment based on the control objectives defined in the report.

Remember: Although the reporting standard is soon to be, SSAE 18, the SSAE 16 and ISAE 3204, are all still considered to be a SOC 1 Report!

The latest changes are meant to give the end user a clearer picture of their vendor’s subservice organizations and the responsibilities of the end user as well (Complementary User Entity Controls), which, will help to provide an all around higher level of assurance and understanding to all involved.

SOC 2 and SOC 3 – Additional Reporting Options

In addition to the SOC 1 report which is restricted to controls relevant to an audit of a user entity’s financial statements, the SOC 2 and SOC 3 reports have been created to address controls relevant to operations and compliance.

  • SOC 2 Report – Trust Services Principles – The Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 Report will be performed in accordance with AT 101 and based upon the Trust Services Principles, with the ability to test and report on the design (Type I) and operating (Type II) effectiveness of a service organization’s controls (just like SOC 1 / SSAE 18)….read more
  • SOC 3 Report – WebTrust and SysTrust – The SOC 3 Report is also based upon the Trust Service Principles and performed under AT101, the difference being that a SOC 3 Report is permitted to be freely distributed (general use) and only reports on if the entity has achieved the Trust Services criteria or not (no description of tests and results or opinion on description of the system)….read more

SOC 1 & SOC 2 Preparation Checklist

I’ve been hearing from various people in the marketplace that they were interested in learning about some steps, at a high level, that they need to take to get off the ground and on their way to completing their SOC 1/2 Report Type I or Type II. So, I will give you all a breakdown of some of the things organizations should be doing now, and some things to think about down the line as you progress.

This SOC Reporting Checklist is geared towards service organizations whom have never undergone a SAS 70, SSAE 16, etc. in the past and will be taking up the task this coming year. A more detailed version geared towards companies that have some experience being audited will be coming down the line.

  • Do your research.
    • You have already come across our site, so you have begun the process of researching SSAE 16 and the responsibilities that come with performing one. I would continue to search for SAS 70 related information as well, as most of that knowledge is applicable.
  • Find a few CPA firms who perform over 75 SOC Reports annually.
    • You will want to research a number of firms that could perform and sign off on your SOC Report, which, only CPA firms are permitted to do. This process should be handled with the utmost care as you are putting a lot of trust into the company you choose, they can make or break you.
    • Some things to consider:
        1. The size of your company – You may not be able to afford a large CPA firm.
        2. The clientele you are attracting – Some companies will not feel secure with the quality of your SSAE 16 if it was performed by a firm that isn’t well known.
        3. Total SOC 1 or SOC 2 reports performed – You do not want to use a company who has never done such work in the past, unless they are comprised of former employees of another quality firm and have decided to take off on their own.
        4. The methodology employed – You will want to quiz the companies and gain comfort around their methods and ensure you are comfortable with their responses and agree based upon your research.
  • Narrow your search.
    • Based upon how you felt about each company, the people, the methodology, their previous experience, and of course, cost,  you should narrow down your search to the top 2 companies.
    • Pricing for a SOC report can vary greatly depending upon the company performing the work, the size of your organization, and audit scope. On average, company’s should be expected to spend between $15,000-$30,000 for a Type II audit.
      • You should look for a fixed rate fee so there is no potential for them to raise rates on you as the project progresses.
  • Define the scope.
    • Once you have engaged a firm to perform the work, make sure you define the scope of the audit early on in the process. Not doing so could lead to excessive delays and potential cost overruns.
  • Define your control objectives and activities.
    • In conjunction with your CPA firm, define the controls and test steps to be tested and make sure that they have been reviewed by process owners and any of the stakeholders at the CPA firm who may be reviewing and/or signing off on the report to ensure everyone is in agreeance. If this isn’t completed prior to testing, you are asking for a world of trouble.
  • Perform a Readiness Assessment.
    • You can either choose to perform a readiness assessment on your own, based upon the test steps already defined, or, if you do not have the capacity or ability to do so internally, you can look towards either the firm performing your review or another firm who is skilled in preparing companies for audits.

These steps laid out here will set you on your way to getting your SSAE 16 started up and going and should help to guide you through the toughest parts of the process. Once you have completed all of the steps we have laid out, you should be able to rely on the knowledge of your CPA firm to take you through the finish line.

If you have any further questions please Contact Us!

This information is also consistent with SSAE-18 which is effective as of May 1, 2017.