This is a question we get asked regularly “Is the software that is designed to monitor ISo27001 worth the investment?”

If your organisation is ISO 27001 certified, you know how important it is to have a systematic approach for monitoring and managing your information security policies and controls. While there are software solutions specifically designed for this purpose, some organisations opt to use spreadsheets to track their compliance efforts. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each approach.

Dedicated ISO 27001 Compliance Software

The advantages of using specialised software are clear. These applications are built from the ground up to support the entire ISO 27001 lifecycle from risk assessments to audit management. Key benefits include:

•Pre-built templates and control libraries mapped to the ISO 27001 standard
•Automated workflows for assigning tasks, sending reminders, and approving exceptions
•Centralized document repositories with version control
•Real-time dashboards and reporting for monitoring compliance posture
•Audit trails and evidence repositories for proving compliance

The downside is that commercial compliance software requires an investment of both money and time for implementation and ongoing administration. Costs can be a barrier, especially for smaller organisations and it can become time consuming to keep it up to date particularly for smaller organisations.

Using Spreadsheets for ISO 27001 Compliance

While not purpose-built for the job, spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel can be adapted as a simple, low-cost way to manage ISO 27001

compliance activities. The advantages are low upfront costs and familiarity since most employees already know how to use spreadsheet software.

The benefits are:

  • Low cost and can easily be updated as the standards requirements change
  • Can easily be adapted to your organisational needs
  • Are readily understood and operated by the team
  • No additional licence fees.

The drawbacks are that you need to be a bit more proactive about the use of spreadsheets and ensure that you have a good process in place for version control and updates. May not be suitable for a large or complex ISMS.

The Right Approach for Your Organisation

For most organisations, you can use spreadsheets when you first set up your ISMS, it’ll help you understand how it works and you can adapt it to meet your needs. Dedicated compliance software is worth the investment for large or complex ISMS’s, but you need to ensure you get the right one to suit your organisational needs.

The key is understanding your requirements and finding the right set of tools to cost-effectively manage your ISO 27001 compliance obligation. Whether software or spreadsheets, the most important factor is implementing a systematic, consistent approach to information security compliance.

If we can help in any way, just contact us here.