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Introduction to Software Audit: Definition, Benefits, Checklist

June 28, 2022 / 6 min read

Company in the process of the software audit

Nowadays, the majority of companies use a lot of digital tools and applications that constitute the company’s software ecosystem. From time to time, there is a need to run an audit to see if everything is as it should, from a legal, operational and exploiting point of view. And since software now is often a large part of what companies do and how they work, these audits have different forms and purposes.

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In this article, we are going to show you what software audits are all about and why auditing software is so important. Let’s start with the basics.

What is a software audit?

Software audit is, in fact, a very broad term. It can relate to something company does internally or externally (by a third-party auditor). In general, it’s a procedure that aims to verify the state, quality, and compliance of the software used in a given organisation. Some of the most common reasons for conducting a software audit are, for instance:

  • Finding potential issues and glitches that need fixing
  • Tracking software use (e.g., to find out what programs and applications aren’t used or outdated)
  • Verifying licensing compliance (software license audit)
  • Verifying whether your software meets all the legal requirements (e.g., concerning processing personal data)

As we mentioned, there are internal and external software audits. Your in-house team conducts internal ones, and they usually concentrate on the state and quality of your software. External audits are conducted by third-party auditors who need to be unbiased and check everything in compliance with their procedures. Such software audits usually focus on potential compliance and legal issues.

Why are software audits necessary?

The software audit process is necessary for a few reasons. First of all, it helps you maintain all the software in healthy condition. Apps and programs are frequently updated and modified. Each new version comes with useful tweaks, e.g., regarding cybersecurity. It is in your best interest to make sure that all the programs you use are effective and safe.

Secondly, there’s the licensing question. The majority of corporate applications need a license to use them legally. And each such license generates costs every year. If there are applications that your company no longer uses (or that can be easily replaced with cheaper alternatives), such an audit can save you a substantial amount of money.

Lastly, we have usability software audits. They come in handy when you develop your own software and want to make sure that it’s fully functional and intuitive to use, even for less tech-savvy users.

We will talk about diverse forms of software audits in a few moments, but each one of them can play a vital role in your company. The key to success lies in selecting necessary audits carefully. You should order only these audits that you feel are necessary and will help you improve the way your organisation works.

Now, let’s take a look at different types of software audits.

Three types of software audits

Of course, there can be more forms of a software audit; it all really depends on what you want to achieve and what your needs are. But these thee forms are the most common and versatile. Let’s take a closer look at them:

Software security audits

Cybersecurity is a front-burner issue for every mature company. Malicious attacks and security breaches can lead to serious problems, including revealing your employees, clients, and business partners' confidential information and personal data. In the worst-case scenario, such a breach could lead to the end of your company. That’s why companies all over the world do whatever they can to protect their digital assets. They invest in firewalls, top-notch antivirus software, encrypted data transmission (SSL) and other forms of digital barriers. A software security audit is all about ensuring that all software in your company is properly protected and safe to use.

Moreover, during such an audit, you can check:

  • If your website has all the necessary precautions
  • Is your company compliant with the specific data security regulations (e.g., GDPR)
  • What happens with data in your company (how is it processed and who has access to it)

Ux audits (usability and accessibility audits)

Suppose you develop your own software, let’s say a mobile app. You surely want to make sure that it’s operational and easy to use, correct? That’s what UX audits are all about. During such an audit, the auditor checks user flow and the customer journey. They also conduct so-called cognitive walkthroughs to make sure the app accurately performs different tasks.

UX audits are immensely important to conduct before you publish your brand-new app. More often than not, some tweaks are necessary. For instance, your potential users can deem some features hard to understand or incomprehensible. Knowing that you can make required modifications and publish a 100% useful and user-friendly product. That's what UX audits are about.

Software quality audits

The third type of audit is based on verifying the quality of your software. Here, auditors check whether all the apps and programs that you use are updated and work correctly. They also check if there are other solutions that could replace your current tools with something cheaper or more effective. Although it’s not the main point, software quality audits can also verify if you use legal software and stick to the user’s license.

Remember that today, software evolves rapidly. Apps change and improve, and if you don’t keep up, you voluntarily waste time and money. Thanks to software quality audits, you can rest assured that your company works on effective and updated software.

How to conduct a software audit

Usually, the software auditing process comprises four essential stages:

Stage 1: Determining the scope and purpose of the audit

The audit has to be well-organised. You need to know what to check, how and why. There's no room for unnecessary actions – focus only on the elements that can really influence the way your company works. Typically, it's better to concentrate on one specific area and move to the next one when that's done. This way, you won't end up overwhelmed with the amount of information you get.

At this point, you ought to think about creating a software audit checklist, setting transparent guidelines and, of course, informing the team about the audit.

Stage 2: Selecting software audit tools

Here, you need so-called SAM tools. This acronym stands for software asset management. With a properly selected SAM tool, you will be able to get all the information you need and do so in an efficient way. Techmagic coined a very accurate definition of SAM tools:

”SAM tool stands for Software Asset Management tool, which is very important for budgeting the software. A proper SAM tool will highlight the license shortages in your company, point out the overspending, and detect the unused ones that could be removed. In other words, SAM tools are basically your objective third-party service that will estimate your data and provide you with an accurate report”

They also have a list of SAM tools; you can check it on the linked website. Once you have a perfect software audit tool selected, you can think of the data points you want to access and the questions you want to answer. If you need help with that, go back to stage one and adjust the list of the necessary data points according to the purpose of your audit.

Stage 3: Conduct the audit

Some of the SAM tools enable users to run automatic audits, but you'll need to do that manually more often than not. And this requires knowledge and expertise. If you've never done that, most likely, it would be better to ask someone for help. Depending on the type of software audit that you want to conduct, you'll have to find a company specialising in it. For instance, if you're looking for a partner that will help you run a UX audit, we’re happy to help!

Stage 4: Analyse the results

As we mentioned earlier, every audit has to be purposeful. Its findings have to be used to improve something in your company. Analyse the results that you get and think about how this knowledge can be used. You need to connect the data received in stage three to the initial purpose you established in the first stage.

What can you do after the software audit?

Again, it all depends on the purpose and form of the audit, but usually, companies after them decide to:

  • Delete unused software
  • Fix all the technical problems and glitches
  • Deal with possible security leakage
  • Update outdated apps and tools
  • Buy/download new programs or purchase new licenses
  • Create a report summarising the audit
  • Set plans and goals for the next one

Lastly, we want to emphasise the importance of finding a trusted software auditing partner. Look for a company that’s specialised in what you want to achieve. A cybersecurity company will assess the quality of your digital safeguard and show you what needs enhancing. A UX company will help you find out whether your new app works as it should and if it satisfies the users. There is no universal solution for every software audit.

If you want to know more or you need some guidance, feel free to book a free consultation. At NoA Ignite, we help our clients thrive online. Sometimes, we conduct software audits ourselves, and sometimes, we recommend trusted partners with the required competencies. We’ll happily help you as well!

Author

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NoA Ignite

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