Achieving compliance with the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) can be a significant investment for organizations, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with limited resources. As CMMC compliance will no longer be “optional” with the addition of the audits at Levels 2 and 3, trying to get by with partially implemented or unimplemented controls will no longer be an option if you want to bid on and receive new contacts which require the compliance.  We understand the challenges associated with this after working with many organization in the same situation and work to guide organizations through this process so it will be as painless as possible for them to achieve their compliance goals.

Some organizations have decided that it is just not worth becoming compliant as the amount of revenue they receive from the contracts will not outweigh the investments.  This is a personal decision and should be looked at in your organization as well.  If the current and anticipated value of those contracts is not part of a strategic growth plan and/or does not justify the investment, compliance may not be for you.  That said, much of what is included in CMMC is good cyber hygiene and will reduce your organizational risk so that should be taken into account as well.

However, there are several strategies you can consider to afford the costs associated with becoming CMMC compliant:

  1. Value of Becoming Compliant: Achieving CMMC compliance will allow you to continue producing on contracts for the Department of Defense and as such, you need to put a value on that for your organization.  If this represents a significant percentage your annual revenue, you may not have a choice but to figure how to make it work.  You can add the value of the risk reduction to the calculation which can help to justify the investment as you will have a solid security posture with a complete defense in depth program once you are finished.
  2. Budgeting and Planning: Start by conducting a thorough assessment of your current cybersecurity posture and identifying gaps or deficiencies that need to be addressed to achieve compliance. Based on this assessment, develop a detailed budget and implementation plan that outlines the costs associated with achieving compliance over time. Prioritize critical areas and allocate resources accordingly.
  3. Government Assistance Programs: Explore government assistance programs, grants, or subsidies that may be available to help offset the costs of cybersecurity improvements. For example, some government agencies offer funding or support to help small businesses enhance their cybersecurity posture in alignment with regulatory requirements.
  4. Outsourcing and Managed Services: Engage with third-party cybersecurity experts or Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) that specialize in CMMC compliance. Outsourcing certain aspects of cybersecurity management can be cost-effective compared to hiring full-time staff or investing in specialized tools and technologies. MSSPs can provide tailored solutions based on your organization’s needs and budget.
  5. Prioritize High-Impact Controls: Focus on implementing high-impact cybersecurity controls that provide the most significant security benefits relative to their costs. Prioritize controls that address critical security risks and vulnerabilities identified through risk assessments or compliance requirements.
  6. Incremental Approach: Take an incremental approach to achieving compliance with CMMC by breaking down the process into smaller, manageable steps. Implement controls and measures gradually over time, starting with the most critical areas, and continuously improve your cybersecurity posture iteratively.  One of the new components in CMMC is the introduction of the plan of actions and milestones (POAM). This allows you to indicate some controls that you will be implementing in the future with a specific timeline and plan.  While not all controls can be put on a POAM still allowing you to bid, if you have tacked the high-impact controls indicated in step 5, you will be off to good start.

It’s essential to consider the long-term benefits of achieving CMMC compliance, such as improved security posture, reduced risk of data breaches, and enhanced competitiveness in securing government contracts. By strategically allocating resources and leveraging available support mechanisms, organizations can affordably work towards achieving compliance with CMMC standards.