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What is an organizational readiness assessment?

An organizational readiness assessment is an official measurement of the preparedness of your company to undergo a major change or take on a significant new project. You don’t want to jump into a big change or project without knowing if your company has the resources to accomplish it effectively.

Conducting an organizational readiness assessment gives you the knowledge and assurance that your company’s proposed endeavor will be successful if you decide to go ahead and do it. It can also save your company’s reputation by allowing you to avoid a potentially high-profile failure for engaging in a project you were not ready to complete. 

A readiness assessment usually assesses the following:

  • Project goals and objectives
  • Expectations and concerns
  • Leadership support of the project
  • Ability to adapt to change
  • Ways to minimize potential project failure
  • Project governance and decision making
  • Other critical project needs

What Are the Advantages of Performing a Readiness Assessment? 

Readiness Is a Chance to Get Familiar with the Audit Process. 

Independent of what type of audit your organization is approaching, the readiness phase is very similar. Readiness assessments usually happen when the organization is approaching an audit for the first time. If they have never been through an audit, or that type of audit, readiness helps them understand what the audit is about and how to better prepare for it. 

Readiness is a chance for the IT security and compliance team to understand how auditors think and the type of issues they are examining related to control frameworks and regulatory factors. 

Readiness Assessments Help You Address Potential Problems. 

This type of assessment also gives your company the ability to address any potential issues before they become big problems as you move forward on the proposed project. This is important because it will save your company time and money, and even improve the profitability of the change, if the change is a project you are taking on for a client. 

“The audit the readiness assessment helps everybody prepare for the audit—both the client and the auditor. From our standpoint as auditors, we get to see what controls are already in place and what framework we’re going to be going up against. We also get to see if there are any gaps before we actually perform the audit. As we identify those gaps, the client is made aware of them and see what needs to be addressed. It gives the client an opportunity to go into the audit fully prepared, knowing that they’re in a good place, especially if they’ve never been through an audit before.” – Dave Zuk, the SOC Practice Manager at I.S. Partners. 

By pointing out gaps that need to be addressed, we are helping to ensure the client company is successful in the eventual audit. They will have the information they need to close those gaps, add controls, and remediate issues before investing the time and effort required for the final audit. “With readiness assessments, we are trying to put them in the best possible position as the move towards the audit,” explains Dave. 

Readiness Assessments Help You Address Changes with Employees. 

In addition, the organizational readiness assessment allows you to address the details of the change with your employees to determine if they are ready for such a change and have the ability and resources they need to do their part in it. This is another way that doing the assessment is a smart move. 

Being kept in the loop and engaged with what the company is doing will make your employees feel more valued, which will increase their personal investment in the proposed change or project and motivate them to want to do their part in it well. 

“Readiness assessments can also be helpful if there has been turnover within the risk team of an organization,” explained Dave. “It can help if the new personnel coming in are not familiar with a particular audit, want to get a baseline for compliance efforts, identify any gaps, or test how controls are set up.” 

I think a readiness assessment provides an overview of the data flow diagram which is useful to anyone coming into the company. No matter if you are approaching a SOC 1, SOC 2, HITRUST, or ISO, the readiness assessment will allow employees to better understand the data flow in and out.  

Is an External Auditor Needed to Lead Your Readiness Assessment? 

No, the readiness assessment doesn’t necessarily need to be done with an external auditor. The need for an external auditor on your readiness team depends on the maturity of the organization. For example, if the organization itself has some formal risk officer or auditing director, or someone who is familiar with audits, they can fully run a readiness assessment. Because, at the end of the day, it’s going to be their controls that are in place. So, if that individual manages and has an understanding of what the controls are, he/she can certainly run the gap assessment internally. 

But, an external expert can definitely help. An organizational readiness assessment is a checklist that is usually custom made based on the current situation at your company and the parameters and requirements of the change or project you intend to pursue. 

A third-party auditing company like I.S. Partners, LLC is the best choice to create an organizational readiness assessment for you. A third party will be able to look at your company and your proposed project objectively, without the attachment to it that you and your employees will have, and that could get in the way of a realistic assessment. Though the evidence required for one audit framework or another is often the same, the request or the format that it needs to be delivered in may be different. So, this is one way that an auditor can help speed up the process. 

Your auditor will look at your company’s resources, and the needs of the project, and use this information to prepare a custom checklist for you. Your auditor will even conduct the assessment for you, using the checklist they prepared, and give you a detailed report of their findings, and will consult with you on those findings and their recommendations based on them. 

Who Needs a Readiness Assessment? 

The most common reason for performing a readiness assessment is to prepare for an organization for its first audit or for the first audit of a new kind. If your organization is approaching a SOC 1, SOC 2, ISO, HITRUST or other type of certification for the first time, this type of assessment is a great way to ensure that you are not going into it blind.  

“A readiness assessment is 100% recommended for any organization that has never been through any type of audit. This includes startups and those that are new to the industry,” said Dave. 

What Can a Readiness Assessment Do for Your Business?

A good readiness assessment means having good organizational programs and project readiness. These are the precursors of quality improvement and are achieved when your company feels like it is ready to make a big change, alter the current way you do things, restructure the business, or take on a large and important new project for a client. The first sign of organizational readiness is your company’s willingness to alter your current practices to be more compatible with the needs of the change or project you are proposing.

Your professionally prepared organizational readiness assessment will pinpoint:

  • Your available company resources,
  • the characteristics of your employees,
  • and areas in which your company needs to improve in order to take on the change or project and make it a success.

Additional References: 

How to Use Your Organization Readiness Assessment

The results of the organizational assessment will give you the additional benefit of identifying the strengths of your organization, most particularly the things that will be the strongest assets for you in your proposed change.

Finally, your organizational readiness assessment will allow you to know whether your organization meets the requirements to even consider the change or project you have in mind. If you don’t have the requirements now, the assessment will let you know what you need to acquire and any changes you need to make or training you need to do in order to make the proposed project a successful one that your company actually can accomplish, and accomplish brilliantly.

Related article: Overview of the HITRUST CSF Readiness Assessment.

Looking to Have a Readiness Assessment Completed?

If your company is considering making a big change to its structure or the way it does business, or is trying to determine whether a proposed new project from a client is something it can actually take on, an organizational readiness assessment will be an invaluable tool for you.

I.S. Partners, LLC will come to your company and create a custom organizational readiness assessment checklist for you, then consult with you on the results and what they mean. They will even advise you on what you need to do to make your company ready if it is determined to not be when the assessment is done. Your company has goals to become better, more profitable, and/or better known. Taking on big changes and projects can make this happen for you. An organizational readiness assessment by I.S. Partners, LLC will be instrumental in getting your company there.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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