How to choose a fully compliant SaaS partner

Sophos’ study from 2020 revealed that 70% of organisations with hosting on the public cloud went through a security breach. These incidents resulted in the companies paying fines, going through lawsuits, and gaining a bad reputation.

On the other hand, ensuring your SaaS partner is fully compliant will help you build credibility, integrity, and data security. That’s why this article details the rules and regulations your partner needs to comply with, as well as steps you can take to ensure you’ve found the right one.

What does compliance entail?

When it comes to building custom SaaS solutions, the field is too broad to say exactly which regulations are necessary. They depend on many factors since each industry has its own set of laws and rules that your product needs to abide by. However, there are a few that are applicable in all cases, and we will go over them in this section.

ISO/IEC 27001

This is an organisation and its set of around a dozen standards that deal with sensitive data, including employee data, intellectual property, financial information, and third-party data. The point is to help companies manage, maintain, and establish information security management systems (ISMSs) in a secure way. Both this framework and SOC 2 have similar aims, and both are recognised globally, but SOC 2 is more associated with North America. Ideally, your partner should be compliant with both.

The GDPR

The GDPR, or the General Data Protection Regulation, is a document created by the EU that helps protect personal data. In its essence, it is a legal framework that companies are required to abide by, by implementing processes that guarantee the safety of all personal data. When it comes to SaaS, no matter the industry, you will have to store at least some personal information, so the GDPR is the main regulation you should focus on when choosing a partner. Non-EU countries usually have similar documents in place, such as the PDP Act in Serbia or the CCPA in the US, so ask about those if you’re partnering with companies from these countries.

Industry-specific regulations

As we already mentioned, most of the legal requirements for your SaaS partner will depend on the industry.

For example, if you’re in healthcare, you’ll need to look for HIPAA compliance. This document gives patients more agency over their information and establishes legal safeguards that aim to protect their data. This document specifically deals with the usage and release of personal health records.

ASC 606, which stands for Accounting Standards Codification, defines boundaries in the accounting industry. Its aim is to legally require all entities to recognise their revenue once their goods/services have been transferred to a customer or user and that the revenue is equal to the transaction price established before the allocation of funds has taken place. Similar to this is the IFRS 17, which defines the standards for international financial reporting.

The PCI DSS is a security standard in the payment card industry.  It covers all the components, operational and technical, connected to the cardholders’ data. An example from the PCI DSS would be the law that prevents card merchants from storing sensitive authentication data and obliges them to use encryption and other safeguards to protect it.

What can I do to ensure my SaaS partner is compliant?

Before going into a partnership with a SaaS provider, there are certain steps you have to take in order to ensure their company and your product will be fully compliant with all the general and industry-specific regulations. Here’s what those steps should include.

1. Assess risks and your security needs

The best practice for this would be to sit down with your team and create a specific document outlining your risks and security needs. Once you have everything on paper, you can refer back to this document to discuss the details with potential partners. But make sure you update it as your business grows and changes.

Here are the critical areas this file should cover:

  • Asset management,
  • Data security,
  • Network security,
  • Scalability,
  • Reliability.

2. Create a questionnaire for potential SaaS providers

This is another document that you can create once and then keep around for future use. However, note that it should still undergo checking and editing before being sent out to specific companies. The best practice would be to include your IT and security teams in the creation of the questionnaire.

Here are some sample questions that this document could include:

  • Who has access to our data?
  • Who controls who has access?
  • Which authentication methods will you be able to implement?
  • What do you do to prevent data leaks?
  • What does your recovery plan look like?
  • What are your incident response times?

On top of these and all the other questions you put into this questionnaire, it may prove useful to ask the provider about their past experiences and security-related issues they’ve handled in the past. This question may have a longer answer, so consider asking it in a meeting rather than including it in a written questionnaire.

3. Incorporate compliance in the SDLC

Legal compliance is important enough to be the focus of a project throughout its entire lifecycle – not just when you’re first choosing a partner or just before launch. It’s an integral part of any software, so everyone working on it should pay special attention to it. Here’s what you can do to ensure you stay compliant throughout the project’s lifecycle!

  • Train your staff. Take the time to provide education to all stakeholders about the security procedures and steps you can take to ensure it.
  • Automate what you can. Find the tasks that can be automated, and relieve the stress from your team.
  • Do regular reviews. Review your products annually or quarterly, and make sure to take action as soon as you notice something suspicious.

Conclusion

Staying compliant with all rules and regulations is a key aspect of a successful SaaS product. When you’re looking for a partner to build said product for you, make sure that they abide by general laws, such as the GDPR and ISO/IEC 27001, as well as the industry-specific standards. The first step is to do your research into which laws apply to your business and then assess your company’s risks and safety requirements. After that, you can create a questionnaire to send to potential partners and maintain compliance throughout the project’s lifecycle.

Valcon is a partner you can trust. We can provide you with cutting-edge tailor-made SaaS solutions that check all the legal compliance boxes! Our top-quality software development team is well-versed in all the necessary laws on top of the technical skill they have.

Want to learn more? If you need a SaaS partner who can guarantee both regulatory compliance and technological expertise, please email [email protected] and we’ll be in touch right away.

Fully Compliant SaaS Partner

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