August 3, 2023

Our approach to ticketing and automation

In this series, you’ll hear directly from Vanta’s own Security, Enterprise Engineering, and Privacy, Risk, and Compliance Teams to learn about the team’s approach to keeping Vanta secure. We’ll also share some guidance for teams of all sizes — whether you’re just getting started or looking to uplevel your operations. 

In this post, you’ll hear from Janiece Caldwell, Senior Operations Engineer on our Enterprise Engineering team, and Jess Chang, Staff Technical Program Manager, who led our approach to building the foundation for our ticketing system at Vanta.

What’s a ticketing system?

A ticketing system is software that teams use to intake, triage, route, and respond to customers—in this case, we’re referring to internal customers within a company, including employees and contractors.

At Vanta, our Enterprise Engineering team helped establish our company-wide ticketing system to help uplevel how internal requests are handled as part of improving how employees work every day. 

Why ticketing and automation?

Many companies typically start by intaking requests in standard channels such as email and Slack, which is what we used to do at Vanta as well. While email and Slack are familiar channels, they have drawbacks for both requesters and responding teams, including:

For the requester:

  • Lack of visibility on the status of the request, which can be challenging and frustrating especially for time-sensitive requests.
  • Manual searching to review updates for a request (e.g. through an email inbox or Slack).
  • Inability to prioritize multiple issues effectively without a ticketing system.

For agents and responding teams:

  • Manual tracking of requests that come in from multiple channels.
  • Manual responses from agents for different types of requests.
  • Managing conversations that happen in multiple channels to intake, request approval(s) needed, and complete a request.
  • Lack of ability to view metrics on requests (e.g. type, volume, SLA).
  • Difficult to properly prioritize tickets.

While our Enterprise Engineering team was in its early stages of formation at Vanta, the need to establish a ticketing system quickly became apparent. In fact, it was at the top of our request list from internal stakeholders. But why? 

At a high level, using a ticketing system helps our team centralize all requests we receive and holds us accountable as a support team. Other benefits include:

  • Defined workflows and automation for different types of request types, reducing manual work needed to loop in different approvers while also documenting approvals in one spot.
  • Ability for requester to follow progress of tickets and requests via an end-user portal.
  • Clear visibility, centralization, and organization for all request types for our team.
  • Ability to capture and report on clear metrics for all activity and requests, including ticket volume, tickets by issue type, top requests, average first response time, average resolution time, and more.

What are some steps to consider when moving to a ticketing system?

As many ticketing platforms exist, it’s important to consider your requirements up front, including defining features that are critical vs. nice to have for your team and business. While it’s typical to optimize for cost and user experience, we found that all platforms we looked at had a thoughtful end-user experience and platform; however, cost tended to vary more across platforms.

One thing that was important to our team at Vanta was the ability to separate the intake, routing, and triage of any tickets with potentially sensitive information, such as tickets for your HR team, to ensure that admins and agents for other portions of your helpdesk portal don’t have access. 

Another important consideration for our team was the depth of offerings from a ticketing system, such as automation, a knowledge base, and a service catalog of predetermined services provided. For instance, an internal-facing service catalog allows you to anticipate the potential needs of your employees with a wide range of custom forms and flows for requests such as:

  • Access to software licenses
  • New hardware or loaner devices
  • Review or publishing of content
  • Procurement of new software
  • Exceptions to specific policies or standards

If you’re wondering where we ended up, our team at Vanta ultimately chose Freshservice as our internal ticketing system for its depth of offerings — and we continue to be happy with our choice!

How does the Enterprise Engineering team approach metrics?

As an Enterprise Engineering team, the ability to aggregate and report upon different metrics drawn from our ticketing platform has allowed us to look ahead and make informed decisions based on usage. Instead of relying on a rough sense of recent requests, deeper analytics have helped our team:

  • Project volume to ensure our team is well-resourced and adapts to support the business.
  • Aggregate issues to better understand the big picture and investigate root cause, instead of viewing individual incidents as isolated events.
  • Make provisioning changes where needed to reduce manual, unnecessary requests.
  • Invest additional resources where needed.

For instance, as a team that’s responsible for provisioning software, if we receive a high volume of requests for the same tool from the same team, we can make changes to automatically grant access upon onboarding to eliminate the need for new employees to place manual requests.

A look at Vanta's Enterprise Engineering Team's weekly metric dashboard.
A look at Vanta's Enterprise Engineering Team's weekly metric dashboard.

How have automations helped uplevel your work?

Even at a small company like Vanta, it can be complex to loop in the right information and approvers at the right time — let alone in one spot! Setting up automation for complex workflows has helped our team streamline and capture approval workflows, including documentation of approvals, and grant automated access once fully approved.

Not only does this eliminate manual work and side conversations (e.g. in Slack or email), but this also reduces chances of error and allows our team to be more productive with automated routing and preset responses.

A look at Vanta's Enterprise Engineering Team's flow of automations for the ticket system.
A look at Vanta's Enterprise Engineering Team's flow of automations for the ticket system.

What other features have been helpful?

While each company varies, we’ve found value in creating an internal knowledge base with articles, guidance, and resources for our employees to allow them to self-service any questions or issues they may run into. As a bonus, lightweight analytics, tagging, and keywords on articles allows us to continue to iterate to make these more useful over time.

As a bonus, we also use a Slackbot at Vanta that surfaces articles and Service Catalog items directly from our knowledge base to help our employees get help more quickly and often resolve issues on their own.

Do you have any tips on how to implement a ticketing system?

Yes! While ticketing systems are often associated with IT help desks and teams, remember that many teams intake questions, requests, and other items from employees — such as your legal, marketing, HR, and workplace/office teams. 

At Vanta, we worked to get buy-in across the company by meeting with each team and demonstrating the value of moving to a ticketing system from Slack and email intake. Thankfully this wasn’t a difficult case to make, and we worked with teams to plug in their tools, workflows, and automations in a systematic way.

For team members who would interface with the ticketing platform as “agents,” we worked to help set them up for success by:

  • Creating an intake form for any automation and new workflows needed.
  • Establishing a dedicated agents-only Slack channel for any agent questions to foster collaboration and cross-functional problem solving.
  • Setting up bi-weekly office hours for 1:1 questions.
  • Creating a training guide and hosting in-person trainings for new agents on an as-needed basis to familiarize them with the platform.

While every company has unique needs, it’s important to remember that new tooling and workflows will take time to learn before they become part of the company’s standard way of working. Overall, implementing and embracing an internal ticketing system has transformed and upleveled the way our Enterprise Engineering team (and others!) work at Vanta, and we hope our insights can help your team as well.


Determine whether the GDPR applies to you and if so, if you are a processor or controller (or both)

Do you sell goods or service in the EU or UK?

Do you sell goods or services to EU businesses, consumers, or both?

Do you have employees in the EU or UK?

Do persons from the EU or UK visit your website?

Do you monitor the behavior of persons within the EU?

If any of the above apply to your business, you’ll need to get GDPR compliant.

Create a Data Map by taking the following actions

Identify and document every system (i.e. database, application, or vendor) which stores or processes EU or UK based personally identifiable information (PII)

Document the retention periods for PII in each system

Determine whether you collect, store, or process “special categories” of data

racial or ethnic origins
genetic data
political opinions
biometric data that can uniquely identifying someone
religious or philosophical beliefs
health, sex life or sexual orientation data
trade union membership

Determine whether your Data Map meets the requirements for Records of Processing Activities (Art. 30)

the name and contact details of the controller
the purpose behind the processing of data
a description of the categories of data that will be processed
who will receive the data including data
documentation of suitable safeguards for data transfers to a third country or an international organization
the retention period of the different categories of data
a general description of the technical and organizational security measures

Determine whether your Data Map includes the following information about processing activities carried out by vendors on your behalf

the name and contact details of the processor or processors and of each controller on behalf of which the processor is acting, and, where applicable, of the controller’s or the processor’s representative, and the data protection officer
the categories of processing carried out on behalf of each controller
documentation of suitable safeguards for data transfers to a third country or an international organization
a general description of the technical and organizational security measures

Determine your grounds for processing data

For each category of data and system/application have you determined the lawful basis for processing based on one of the following conditions?

consent of the data subject
contract with the data subject
necessary for compliance with a legal obligation
necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject or a third party
necessary for the performance of a task in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller
necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by a third party, except where such interests are overridden by the rights of data subject

Take inventory of current customer and vendor contracts to confirm new GDPR-required flow-down provisions are included

Review all customer contracts to determine that they have appropriate contract language (i.e. Data Protection Addendums with Standard Contractual Clauses)

Review all in-scope vendor contracts to determine that they have appropriate contract language (i.e. Data Protection Addendums with Standard Contractual Clauses)

Do your agreements cover the following items?
vendor shall process the personal data only on documented instructions (including when making an international transfer of personal data) unless it is required to do otherwise by EU or member state law
vendor ensures that persons authorized to process the personal data are subject to confidentiality undertakings or professional or statutory obligations of confidentiality.
vendor have adequate information security in place, technical and organizational measures to be met to support data subject requests or breaches
vendor shall not appoint or disclose any personal data to any sub-processor unless required or authorized
vendor shall delete or return all the personal data after the end of the provision of services relating to processing, and deletes existing copies unless Union or Member State law requires storage of the personal data;
vendor makes available all information necessary to demonstrate compliance and allow for and contribute to audits, including inspections

Have you performed a risk assessment on vendors who are processing your PII?


Determine if you need to do a Data Protection Impact Assessment

Is your data processing taking into account the nature, scope, context, and purposes of the processing, likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons?

Does your processing involve any of the following?
automated processing, including profiling, and on which decisions are based that produce legal effects
special categories of data or data related to criminal convictions and offenses
monitor publicly accessible area on a large scale.
If any of the above are true, you may need to conduct a Data Protection Impact Assessment for existing and new data projects.

Review product and service design (including your website or app) to ensure privacy notice links, marketing consents, and other requirements are integrated

Do you have a public-facing Privacy Policy which covers the use of all your products,  services and websites?

Does the notice to the data subject include the following items?

the identity and the contact details of the organization and its representative
the contact details of the data protection officer, if applicable
the purposes to process personal data and its legal basis for the processing
the recipients or categories of recipients of the personal data, if any
the details regarding any transfer of personal data to a third country and the safeguards taken applicable

Does the notice also include the following items?

the retention period, or if that is not possible, the criteria used to determine that period
the existence of the data subject rights (i.e. requests for information, modification or deletion of PII)
the right to withdraw consent at any time
the right to lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority
whether the provision of personal data is a statutory or contractual requirement, or a requirement necessary to enter into a contract, as well as whether the data subject is obliged to provide the personal data and of the possible consequences of failure to provide such data
the existence of automated decision-making, including profiling, and meaningful information about the logic involved, as well as the significance and the consequences

Do you have a mechanism for persons to change or withdraw consent?


Update internal privacy policies to comply with notification obligations

Update internal privacy notices for EU employees

Do you have an Employee Privacy Policy governing the collection and use of EU and UK employee data?

Determine if you need to appoint a Data Protection Officer, and appoint one if needed

Have you determined whether or not you must designate a Data Protection Officer (DPO) based on one of the following conditions (Art. 37)?

the data processing is carried out by a public authority
the core activities of the controller or processor require regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale

If you export data from the EU, consider if you need a compliance mechanism to cover the data transfer, such as model clauses

If you transfer, store, or process data outside the EU or UK, have you identified your legal basis for the data transfer (note: most likely covered by the Standard Contractual Clauses)

Have you performed and documented a Transfer Impact Assessment (TIA)?


Confirm you are complying with other data subject rights (i.e. aside from notification)

Do you have a defined process for timely response to Data Subject Access Requests (DSAR) (i.e. requests for information, modification or deletion of PII)?

Are you able to provide the subject information in a concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language?

Do you have a process for correcting or deleting data when requested?

Do you have an internal policy regarding a Compelled Disclosure from Law Enforcement?


Determine if you need to appoint an EU-based representative, and appoint one if needed

Have you appointed an EU Representative or determined that an EU Representative is not needed based on one of the following conditions?

data processing is occasional
data processing is not on a large scale
data processing doesn’t include special categories or data related to criminal convictions and offenses
doesn’t risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects
a public authority or body

If operating in more than one EU state, identify a lead Data Protection Authority (DPA)

Do you operate in more than one EU state?

If so, have you designated the Supervisory Authority of the main establishment to act as your Lead Supervisory Authority?


Implement Employee Trainings to Demonstrate Compliance with GDPR Principles and Data Subject Rights

Have you provided appropriate Security Awareness and Privacy training to your staff?


Update internal procedures and policies to ensure you can comply with data breach response requirements

Have you created and implemented an Incident Response Plan which included procedures for reporting a breach to EU and UK Data Subjects as well as appropriate Data Authorities?

Do breach reporting policies comply with all prescribed timelines and include all recipients i.e. authorities, controllers, and data subjects?


Implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk

This includes pseudonymization/ encryption, maintaining confidentiality, restoration of access following physical/technical incidents and regular testing of measures

Have you implemented encryption of PII at rest and in transit?

Have you implemented pseudonymization?

Have you implemented appropriate physical security controls?

Have you implemented information security policies and procedures?

Can you access EU or UK PII data in the clear?

Do your technical and organizational measure ensure that, by default, only personal data which are necessary for each specific purpose of the processing are processed?


Consider streamlining GDPR compliance with automation

Transform manual data collection and observation processes into continuous monitoring

Download this checklist for easy reference

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Develop a roadmap for successful implementation of an ISMS and ISO 27001 certification

Implement Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) process to recognize challenges and identify gaps for remediation

Consider ISO 27001 certification costs relative to org size and number of employees

Clearly define scope of work to plan certification time to completion

Select an ISO 27001 auditor


Set the scope of your organization’s ISMS

Decide which business areas are covered by the ISMS and which are out of scope

Consider additional security controls for business processes that are required to pass ISMS-protected information across the trust boundary

Inform stakeholders regarding scope of the ISMS


Establish an ISMS governing body

Build a governance team with management oversight

Incorporate key members of top management, e.g. senior leadership and executive management with responsibility for strategy and resource allocation


Conduct an inventory of information assets

Consider all assets where information is stored, processed, and accessible

  • Record information assets: data and people
  • Record physical assets: laptops, servers, and physical building locations
  • Record intangible assets: intellectual property, brand, and reputation

Assign to each asset a classification and owner responsible for ensuring the asset is appropriately inventoried, classified, protected, and handled


Execute a risk assessment

Establish and document a risk-management framework to ensure consistency

Identify scenarios in which information, systems, or services could be compromised

Determine likelihood or frequency with which these scenarios could occur

Evaluate potential impact of each scenario on confidentiality, integrity, or availability of information, systems, and services

Rank risk scenarios based on overall risk to the organization’s objectives


Develop a risk register

Record and manage your organization’s risks

Summarize each identified risk

Indicate the impact and likelihood of each risk


Document a risk treatment plan

Design a response for each risk (Risk Treatment)

Assign an accountable owner to each identified risk

Assign risk mitigation activity owners

Establish target dates for completion of risk treatment activities


Complete the Statement of Applicability worksheet

Review 114 controls of Annex A of ISO 27001 standard

Select controls to address identified risks

Complete the Statement of Applicability listing all Annex A controls, justifying inclusion or exclusion of each control in the ISMS implementation


Continuously assess and manage risk

Build a framework for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving the ISMS

Include information or references to supporting documentation regarding:

  • Information Security Objectives
  • Leadership and Commitment
  • Roles, Responsibilities, and Authorities
  • Approach to Assessing and Treating Risk
  • Control of Documented Information
  • Communication
  • Internal Audit
  • Management Review
  • Corrective Action and Continual Improvement
  • Policy Violations

Assemble required documents and records

Review ISO 27001 Required Documents and Records list

Customize policy templates with organization-specific policies, process, and language


Establish employee training and awareness programs

Conduct regular trainings to ensure awareness of new policies and procedures

Define expectations for personnel regarding their role in ISMS maintenance

Train personnel on common threats facing your organization and how to respond

Establish disciplinary or sanctions policies or processes for personnel found out of compliance with information security requirements


Perform an internal audit

Allocate internal resources with necessary competencies who are independent of ISMS development and maintenance, or engage an independent third party 

Verify conformance with requirements from Annex A deemed applicable in your ISMS's Statement of Applicability

Share internal audit results, including nonconformities, with the ISMS governing body and senior management

Address identified issues before proceeding with the external audit


Undergo external audit of ISMS to obtain ISO 27001 certification

Engage an independent ISO 27001 auditor

Conduct Stage 1 Audit consisting of an extensive documentation review; obtain feedback regarding readiness to move to Stage 2 Audit

Conduct Stage 2 Audit consisting of tests performed on the ISMS to ensure proper design, implementation, and ongoing functionality; evaluate fairness, suitability, and effective implementation and operation of controls


Address any nonconformities

Ensure that all requirements of the ISO 27001 standard are being addressed

Ensure org is following processes that it has specified and documented

Ensure org is upholding contractual requirements with third parties

Address specific nonconformities identified by the ISO 27001 auditor

Receive auditor’s formal validation following resolution of nonconformities


Conduct regular management reviews

Plan reviews at least once per year; consider a quarterly review cycle 

Ensure the ISMS and its objectives continue to remain appropriate and effective

Ensure that senior management remains informed

Ensure adjustments to address risks or deficiencies can be promptly implemented


Calendar ISO 27001 audit schedule and surveillance audit schedules

Perform a full ISO 27001 audit once every three years

Prepare to perform surveillance audits in the second and third years of the Certification Cycle


Consider streamlining ISO 27001 certification with automation

Transform manual data collection and observation processes into automated and continuous system monitoring

Identify and close any gaps in ISMS implementation in a timely manner


Learn more about achieving ISO 27001 certification with Vanta

Book an ISO 27001 demo with Vanta

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Determine which annual audits and assessments are required for your company

Perform a readiness assessment and evaluate your security against HIPAA requirements

Review the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights Audit Protocol


Conduct required HIPAA compliance audits and assessments

Perform and document ongoing technical and non-technical evaluations, internally or in partnership with a third-party security and compliance team like Vanta


Document your plans and put them into action

Document every step of building, implementing, and assessing your compliance program

Vanta’s automated compliance reporting can streamline planning and documentation


Appoint a security and compliance point person in your company

Designate an employee as your HIPAA Compliance Officer


Schedule annual HIPAA training for all employees

Distribute HIPAA policies and procedures and ensure staff read and attest to their review


Document employee trainings and other compliance activities

Thoroughly document employee training processes, activities, and attestations


Establish and communicate clear breach report processes
to all employees

Ensure that staff understand what constitutes a HIPAA breach, and how to report a breach

Implement systems to track security incidents, and to document and report all breaches


Institute an annual review process

Annually assess compliance activities against theHIPAA Rules and updates to HIPAA


Continuously assess and manage risk

Build a year-round risk management program and integrate continuous monitoring

Understand the ins and outs of HIPAA compliance— and the costs of noncompliance

Download this checklist for easy reference

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Written by
Janiece Caldwell
Jess Chang
Access Review Stage Content / Functionality
Across all stages
  • Easily create and save a new access review at a point in time
  • View detailed audit evidence of historical access reviews
Setup access review procedures
  • Define a global access review procedure that stakeholders can follow, ensuring consistency and mitigation of human error in reviews
  • Set your access review frequency (monthly, quarterly, etc.) and working period/deadlines
Consolidate account access data from systems
  • Integrate systems using dozens of pre-built integrations, or “connectors”. System account and HRIS data is pulled into Vanta.
  • Upcoming integrations include Zoom and Intercom (account access), and Personio (HRIS)
  • Upload access files from non-integrated systems
  • View and select systems in-scope for the review
Review, approve, and deny user access
  • Select the appropriate systems reviewer and due date
  • Get automatic notifications and reminders to systems reviewer of deadlines
  • Automatic flagging of “risky” employee accounts that have been terminated or switched departments
  • Intuitive interface to see all accounts with access, account accept/deny buttons, and notes section
  • Track progress of individual systems access reviews and see accounts that need to be removed or have access modified
  • Bulk sort, filter, and alter accounts based on account roles and employee title
Assign remediation tasks to system owners
  • Built-in remediation workflow for reviewers to request access changes and for admin to view and manage requests
  • Optional task tracker integration to create tickets for any access changes and provide visibility to the status of tickets and remediation
Verify changes to access
  • Focused view of accounts flagged for access changes for easy tracking and management
  • Automated evidence of remediation completion displayed for integrated systems
  • Manual evidence of remediation can be uploaded for non-integrated systems
Report and re-evaluate results
  • Auditor can log into Vanta to see history of all completed access reviews
  • Internals can see status of reviews in progress and also historical review detail

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