Changelogs: How to use them to comply with SOC 2 Compliance?


Businesses in the digital era may need help navigating the complexities of information security compliance. The SOC 2 framework stands out among the many regulatory compliance standards as the benchmark for proving a company’s data security and privacy commitment. It is a set of globally recognized security guidelines that grant an organization’s clients complete confidence in the latter’s ability to keep sensitive customer data out of the hands of malicious entities. Many crucial components are in your quest to attain SOC 2 compliance; however, changelogs often must be noticed.

Changelogs are essential to a SOC 2 audit and can be the key to openness, accountability, and upholding customer faith responsibly. Changelogs are more than just a record of the modifications made to your systems and software. They can improve your go-to-market processes for new features added to your product and demonstrate product velocity, which, in turn, can drive faster purchase decisions and help increase sales conversions. This blog will briefly overview what a SOC 2 changelog is, its benefits, and its best practices. We will also enumerate some other ways you can maintain customer communication requirements in SOC 2 compliance.

In short, a changelog is a document that lists the product changes made in a product, resembling version history. It is primarily used by software and product teams internally to inform everyone in the company about any new feature additions made to a product. However, changelogs can also be useful tools for reaching current and new customers. 

Internal changelogs and public changelogs, usually called release notes, accomplish the same thing. Outside partners and customers can access public changelogs, which have been improved to accommodate consumer communication. The end customers are considered when creating these changelogs, often hosted on your website or within your product. They include details about updated functionality, bug patches, and other changes that could affect how users interact with your program or website. 

How Does a Public Changelog Satisfy SOC 2 Communication Requirements?

There are several requirements for communication standards for both internal and external audiences, outlined under the SOC 2 customer communication criteria (CC2). Customer communication practices are essential to fulfilling this requirement because they cater to your main external audience. 

Businesses are required to notify their customers of changes to their products under SOC 2 CC2 criteria. This indicates that you need a set process for informing them when something changes, such as:

  • alterations to product functionalities;
  • modifications to contracts, prices, or service terms;
  • features added or taken away; and,
  • signals of dangers or other potential issues with the product, including service outages.

A public changelog is a great solution to satisfy these SOC 2 communication requirements. It provides transparency and makes sure that updates are simple to find. Auditors may easily confirm that your business has a proactive strategy to keep customers informed by simply accessing the provided link, while customers can effortlessly refer to recent updates. You can speedily satisfy the SOC 2 CC2 customer communication criterion by maintaining a consistently updated public changelog, or a changelog can also be provided by part of Trust Center, such as Akitra Trust Center product.

What are the Benefits of Implementing Changelogs Beyond SOC 2 Compliance?

Public changelogs have advantages beyond meeting the Trust Services Criteria of the SOC 2 security framework. In addition, they serve as effective marketing levers for new features and products. Keeping customers informed about product changes contributes to customer retention and happiness by lowering churn.

Changelogs act as a clear source of information for customers about what’s new with your product, and that has a number of significant advantages:

  • It informs users where they can find more information about how their favorite features have evolved or if they are having issues, resulting in decreased support queries.
  • Users feel more confident that the business is developing its products in response to customer comments and demands if a clear communication channel lowers customer churn.
  • Public changelogs make it simple for existing clients and potential prospects to look back on previous updates and see what has changed recently before deciding whether or not to purchase your product or upgrade. This boosts sales opportunities by demonstrating product velocity.

Best Practices You Should Follow For Providing Public Changelogs To Your Customers

If you are planning to provide a public changelog of your product to your clients, these are a few best practices you should follow:

  1. Adopt a Standardized Format

You can use any format you like within your company, but when you publish your changelogs publicly, you must ensure they adhere to a standard schema so that clients and potential clients can easily parse them. You can use language that is natural and free of jargon so that end users can quickly scan it.

  1. Make it Easy For Customers to Locate Them

Your changelogs should be kept inside your product in a similarly accessible place or hosted on your website under What’s New? Section or part of the Trust Center. 

  1. Avoid Starting From Scratch 

An off-the-shelf solution will make it simple for you to design a wonderful, branded customer experience. It also comes with extra automation options and reporting that can be useful as you scale and your changelog information keeps changing. 

  1. Provide Sufficient Context 

You should link your changelogs to further knowledge resources, such as help center documents that detail how to use the feature. You can also include screenshots, animated gifs, or videos to help the reader appreciate the value of the information presented and how to use it.

  1. Update the Changelogs Information Regularly 

This will ensure consumers get everything crucial and motivate them to check back frequently for updates. You can also ask your clients to provide you with permission to contact them every time you add new information to your changelogs.

Other Ways To Fill SOC 2 Communication Requirements

While public changelogs may be the simplest and most efficient ways to meet your SOC 2 customer communication obligations, you can also use a variety of alternative options, such as:

  • weekly or monthly newsletters to customers;
  • banners and in-product notification alerts;
  • tooltips or in-product feature demos;
  • user conferences and webinars (yearly); and,
  • blog posts discussing feature updates in detail.

SOC 2 Compliance Readiness with Akitra!

Establishing trust is a crucial competitive differentiator when prospecting new SaaS businesses in today’s era of data breaches and compromised privacy. Customers and partners want assurances that their organizations are doing everything possible to prevent disclosing sensitive data and putting them at risk, and compliance certification fills that need.

Akitra offers an industry-leading, AI-powered Compliance Automation platform for SaaS companies. Using automated evidence collection and continuous monitoring, together with a full suite of customizable policies and controls as a compliance foundation, our compliance automation platform and service help our customers prepare readiness for the SOC 2 compliance standard, Risk Assessment, and Management along with other security frameworks like SOC 1, SOC 2, HIPAA, GDPR, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, ISO 27701, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, NIST CSF, NIST 800-53, NIST 800-171, FedRAMP, CCPA, CMMC, and more such as CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark, etc. In addition, companies can use Akitra’s Risk Management product for overall risk management for your company, Trust Center, and AI-based Automated Questionnaire Response product to streamline and expedite security questionnaire response processes, delivering huge cost savings. Our compliance and security experts will provide customized guidance to navigate the end-to-end compliance process confidently. 

The benefits of our solution include enormous savings in time, human resources, and cost savings, including discounted audit fees with our audit firm partners. Customers achieve compliance certification fast and cost-effectively, stay continuously compliant as they grow, and can become certified under additional frameworks using a single compliance automation platform.

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