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What is a Software Audit? Why Should You Repeat This Process Regularly?
By the end of this article, you’ll be able to understand what software audits are, when and who should perform the audits, the benefits of software audits, different types of audits, and preparing as a customer for a software audit.
What is a Software Audit?
A software audit is the examination of software performed either internally or by a third party to assess its compliance with policies and licenses, software quality, compliance with industry standards, legal requirements, and others.
Software audits may be carried out internally by groups like developer teams or externally by third-party companies. Some audits call for collaboration, and the group may be led by a lead auditor. Usually, software audits rely on particular tools to assist in the type of information needed for the audit. This might entail doing functionality or security audits utilizing analytical tools. When software is sold, or its status needs to be verified, compliance audits may involve reviewing proprietary tools.
When Should you Perform a Software Audit?
Although a software audit should be performed regularly, there are some situations in which it is most beneficial.
The onboarding of a new team into a project can be an initial use case for software audits. It’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of the present project situation, including all of its details, before beginning a new project. This is not necessarily a thorough study that covers project details like licensing or compliance with regulations. Overall, though, a software audit is a crucial step in the onboarding that can provide a complete view of the project being developed.
Problems faced in a project
Another time when an audit can be performed is when things are not going according to plans, and some of the software features are not working as intended, and it is unclear what might be causing it. An audit can find potential problems and help in getting rid of the roadblocks that are stopping the project from progressing.
Regularly conducting a software audit might become a common task for a business. These audits may occur once or twice a year. For instance, a project manager can start an audit to assess the project’s present health and ensure everything is operating as it should.
An audit of a company’s current software solutions is an important part of development planning. Our experience shows that as an external team, we pay attention to different aspects than internal teams. This allows us to take a broader view of many business processes. As a result, the changes made have an even better impact on the company’s efficiency. CEO, ASPER BROTHERS Let's Talk
Who Should Conduct an Audit?
The software audit can be performed in two ways. One is an internal audit, which is performed internally within an organization by the in-house team, and the other type is an external audit, which is performed by a third party.
When you don’t have the necessary internal expertise, or you want a second set of objective eyes, external software audits can be useful. Additionally, hiring an external auditor could be required if you don’t have enough resources, such as when the in-house team is busy because of a heavy workload or lacks the requisite experience.
Internal Audits are important and should regularly be performed, although oftentimes, they lack the thoroughness and experience that external experts can provide. Therefore, both types of audits should be performed, but most of the actual problems are identified by external auditors because their audit is unbiased and thorough. Furthermore, it is helpful that people other than the development team audit the software because the development team usually lacks the knowledge to check for regulatory compliance and legal issues.
Benefits of Performing Software Audits
There are numerous benefits of performing software audits. Some of the important ones will be discussed below:
Maintaining Software Quality
Software audits help maintain software quality and also for finding areas for improvement. It enables you to keep all of the applications operating properly. Software and applications are often upgraded and updated. Every new edition includes beneficial changes, such as cybersecurity-related ones. You should make sure that all of the software you use is reliable and secure. Some of the problems in the software are identified, and after the analysis, it might become evident that some modules might need to be changed or even completely replaced. Furthermore, the usage of some tools might be increased or restricted based on what you learn from an audit. The audit might make it clear the need to purchase some new tools which further improve the quality of the software.
Maximizing license use and getting rid of unwanted licenses
During an audit, the state of current licenses can be identified, and they can be better utilized for better software usage. This will ensure that you are taking maximum advantage of your current licenses. The audit will also check whether the licenses are up to date or not. Having up-to-date licenses will also maximize the benefits that can be obtained. Furthermore, there can be some inactive licenses, thus making you spend money without having any benefits. The audit team can identify these licenses and remove them accordingly.
Improving Business Operations
Whenever the software requires some proprietary tools to function properly, it is worth performing a thorough analysis to check whether the tools you are about to purchase will be compatible with all the others currently present. Some of the applications you wish to purchase could look fantastic in theory, but they may need a lot of your time to adapt and reorganize before you can utilize them. You should think twice before buying a tool if it does not meet your expectations or your business’s needs and standards. Doing an audit at the right stage will ensure that you purchase compatible tools which go well with the business goals, thus enhancing the business operations.
Fulfilling Legal and Industry Requirements
During the audit, it can be analyzed whether the software complies with the IEEE standards, and in case of any non-compliance, the audit can suggest changes that will improve the software. Apart from these standards, the software is also analyzed for legal, and regulatory compliance, which ensures that the software is fulfilling all the legal requirements and it is very beneficial in the long run.
Types of Software Audits
The purpose of a software audit can be to check the quality of software, assess its security, or estimate its usability and accessibility. The type that has to be carried out depends on the goals of the audit. Some audits will focus only on the quality aspects, while there can be audits considering all three aspects of the software. The types are discussed in more detail below:
Software Quality Audits
As the name suggests, this audit assesses the quality aspects of the software. The auditors verify that all the applications and programs you use are up to date and functional. Additionally, they look for alternative options that could replace your existing tools with more efficient ones. Software quality audits might also confirm the adherence to the user’s license. This audit aims to ensure that the tools being used are of the highest possible quality. This also takes into account the rapid technological advancements, making sure they comply well with the latest technology needs and minimizing the risk of failure in the near future. The end result of such an audit is the identification of quality flaws and suggested improvements.
Software Security Audits
Software security is a very important concern in these times when cyber attacks have become a norm. It is absolutely important to take cybersecurity measures to protect software from security breaches and malicious attacks. Such attacks may result in major issues, such as disclosing the private and confidential information of a company. These breaches have a seriously bad impact and can even mark the end of your business. Because of this, businesses everywhere take all necessary precautions to safeguard their software. They invest in digital barriers like up-to-date antivirus and malware protection, powerful firewalls, SSL-encrypted data transmission, etc. The main goal of a software security audit is to make sure that all of the software used by your business is secured and secure.
The software security audits might include performing penetration testing, security testing of web apps, verifying compliance and third-party application security testing, etc.
Usability and Accessibility Audits
Ease of use has become a major requirement for applications. Every company is spending significant time ensuring that their applications are highly accessible and very easy to use for an average user. The lesser effort a user has to make to complete a task, the better the usability of an application. Conducting these audits is crucial before releasing your application. Most of the time, some adjustments are required. For instance, some of your features can be seen as confusing or difficult to understand by the application users. Usability and accessibility audit to ensure you can make the necessary changes and publish a completely practical and user-friendly product. This audit might include heuristic evaluation, user walkthroughs, user flow analysis, etc.
How to prepare for a Software Audit as a Client
If the customer is sufficiently prepared for the software audit, it speeds up the process and saves money. The general software audit checklist for a customer to be prepared for an audit is discussed below:
Determining the scope of the Software Audit
The audit always revolves around some goals that the customer wants to accomplish. Therefore, it is important to identify these goals and ultimately set the scope of the audit. As discussed earlier, some audits will focus only on the quality aspects, while some can study the usability of software, it is important to identify what has to be accomplished by the audit.
Gaining an understanding of the Software Audit Process
Having some understanding of the audit process helps the customer in being helpful in case of an external audit and can save a lot of time. If a third-party software audit partner agency is performing the audit, there is no need to spend too much time on it, but a rough idea of what happens in an audit would be very helpful.
Communicate with Software Vendors
Some proprietary software products are purchased from software vendors. Maintaining good communication with a software vendor will be very helpful in case of an audit. If you keep in touch with your software vendor, there will be a higher chance that they will support you swiftly whenever you need it.
Proof of Licenses
The auditors will need to check the proof of ownership of any licenses that are being used by the software. It is important to ensure that you have proper licenses from your software publisher that allow you to use the tools required by your software.
Using a Software Asset Management tool
Software Asset Management (SAM) tools are digital asset management in a company. They are very useful in managing software licenses, tracking inadequate use of these licenses, and detecting unused licenses. If a company uses a SAM and keeps track of all its software licenses, it makes largely facilitates the audits. Sometimes it is a good idea to hire a third-party software asset management consultant to do this for you.
Performing Internal Audits
Audits are performed internally to make a company ready for external audits and can also save costs. These audits should be regularly performed and should be considered an integral process. Preventative maintenance will save resources, whereas reactive fines will consume a significant percentage of your budget.
What should be included in the delivered Software Audit Result?
The main deliverable of a software audit is the audit report which is a summary of the audit processes and includes the identified problems and their suggested solutions by the auditors. The audit report may talk about several action items, including unused software tools which should be deleted, technical problems that need fixes, potential security vulnerabilities, outdated tools, suggestions to purchase new licenses, suggested software vendors, and plans for the next audit.
The auditors may also do an audit review meeting with the customers to discuss the audit report. In this meeting, the audit report’s findings and any potential issues are discussed. The organization receives the auditors’ findings indicating areas that need changes. The company can meet with the software vendors to discuss how it will fix any mistakes.
Software audits are a close inspection of software to find various problems. They can be performed internally or by an external organization. An internal audit can help keep things on track. In contrast, an external audit provides an unbiased observation of the software and dives into usually unexplored areas such as performing a compliance audit, ensuring industry standards, and checking for legal issues.
There are many benefits to performing software audits, the biggest is saving your money. After a thorough software audit is performed and the action items are addressed, you can expect your software to be of higher quality, more secure, and more compliant with industry and legal requirements.
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