In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive world, conducting a software audit has become imperative for businesses and various organizations as it helps them stay abreast, if not ahead, of things about software. The audit is what keep things up-to-date, appropriately licensed, and functioning properly. It also helps in gaining an insight on your state of affairs, securing your assets, staying relevant in your niche, and more importantly, to keep moving forward.
So sit back and read on as we discuss software audit and walk you through the process.
Importance of Software Audit
There are several reasons why conducting a software audit is of paramount importance. As aforementioned, it makes sure that your software is meeting the standard criteria and is perfectly legal. These mean that your software has been verified and sufficient licenses were obtained.
An audit is also cost-saving because it will allow you to discard software that you no longer use. It gives you the opportunity to look for flaws and determine what requires improvement so your business will continue running smoothly. If the result of the audit is not to your liking, you can decide to acquire a new software that will meet your needs and preferences.
However, it’s important to note that a lot of businesses are guilty of committing the common mistake of not doing a comprehensive study before making the purchase. When you take into consideration the financial and temporal resources, along with the effort exerted on the implementation and maintenance, it becomes apparent that investing in enterprise software is a crucial step.
Nonetheless, companies are often blinded by the desire to upend the competition or they simply want to take a shortcut in pinpointing their software needs. Eventually, they make a purchase based on impulse. This should not be the case because you will likely be left with a bunch of software that doesn’t match your needs or you may end up with incompatible apps that you don’t even know how to put to good use.
Having said all these, a study showed that only 33% of companies and businesses conduct a formal software audit before making a decision. Moreover, only 18% make their decision after evaluating just a single product. The study revealed further that there is a strong correlation between business improvement and software audit. The top businesses tend to conduct software audits while the underperforming businesses are three times more likely disregard software auditing.
It’s quite clear that investing in software audit will protect you from unnecessary expenses in the long run. Poorly developed software means more expenses later on as it entails additional financial costs for adjustments, enhancements, and maintenance. On the other hand, a well-scheduled and well-executed software audit will save you time and money by precisely pointing out the ‘weak spots’ that require refactoring or replacement.
Things to Consider Before Conducting a Software Audit
- Project Type & Specific Needs
Assess the situation and determine whether you need to modify, upgrade or replace your existing software. You need to know if your software lacks certain functionalities or if you need to integrate new technologies to stay competitive.
- Making an In-depth Research
After you have ascertained your needs, the next thing to do is to conduct a thorough research so you can have ideas on how to fulfil those needs. You may have to consider leveraging today’s tech trends and integrate the use of cloud services, blockchain, machine learning, augmented reality, among others.
- Getting Professional Assistance
If you don’t have in-house resources to conduct a software audit, consider seeking professional assistance from a reputable service provider. They can help you evaluate the risks and vulnerabilities and come up with a solution that meets your needs.
Conducting a software audit based on internal information is helpful to evaluate the operating effectiveness of a business process’ controls. But for the audit to keep in step with the ever changing business environment, seeking out external expertise has become the best practice.
How to Perform a Software Audit
If you haven’t done a software audit before, consult your IT staff or an outside service provider and explain why you want the audit performed. Here are the steps to follow when conducting the audit:
- Collect and review all software acquisition records and license agreements. Identify the applications that you wish to audit and make a report on their current usage.
- Double check the report and identify the non-usage software. You can then arrange for the removal of those software. Note the applications you’ve removed, the device you’ve taken them from, and the date when you made the removal.
- Determine the users who have not used the software for over 60 days. Make sure that the software will no longer be used in the future. If it won’t be needed, then you can have it removed permanently.
- Check the usage report and determine if the correct versions of the software are being used. Sometimes it is more cost-effective to use a smaller version if you will only utilize small portions of an application.
- Install and run a report from a System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) tool then document your updated compliance figures.
At JhavTech, we recognize all the steps mentioned above, but we also think of software audit as a two-step process that involves software architecture analysis and source code review.
Software Architecture Analysis
This step tells you the extent to which the architecture meets its objectives, whether specific software quality attributes (i.e. extensibility, modifiability, portability, robustness) were attained and how future changes will affect them. Software architecture analysis is useful for validation during the development stage or when purchasing new software.
The evaluation is achieved through scenarios which involve a brief description of the interaction with a system. Such scenarios check quality attributes and recommend modifications to be made to the system. They also identify potential risks and propose actions to be taken to ensure security.
The scenarios show how easy it will be to make changes to the system (modifiability); how easy it will be for a software to perform in a new device or operating system (portability); how easy it will be to integrate new features (scalability); or how effectively the system will deal with unexpected errors (robustness).
Modifiability embodies the concept of flexibility and maintainability. It indicates how easy it is to make tweaks to the system to correct flaws, boost performance, and adapt to a new environment. Portability proves that a software is cheaper and works seamlessly in different settings. A portable software is easier to support, maintain, and thus offers increased product lifetime.
Scalability is not something that businesses focus on right from the get go. But to forward thinkers, it is easy to glean that a lot depends on a software’s ability to add new data. It has a direct and profound impact on both productivity and profitability. Last but not the least, robustness. It will show whether the system will come to a halt or if it will be able to handle unexpected errors. It will also reveal if the system will log the errors for future correction or debugging.
Source Code Review
This is the final step to improving your software. It involves analyzing the source code to ensure that it works. It also provides feedback and recommendations for improvement. Reviewing the code can be daunting, but it is worth your time and effort as it will allow you to limit the risks.
Even the best developers commit mistakes. A meticulous code review can detect the littlest of errors and make sure everything is working flawlessly. It will also enhance the overall quality of your code. It guarantees that the code is readable and determines if there is a need to refactor.
Code refactoring refers to the process of taking the existing code, restructuring its body without necessarily altering the external behavior. It comes in handy when you want to better understand the code, incorporate new features or find and fix bugs.
Reviewing your source code is important because it limits mistakes, improves quality, and makes your software cheaper to modify. Refactoring can drastically improve the design of your software and makes it easily readable to developers that may work on it in the future.
How Often Should You Conduct a Software Audit?
Doing an internal audit must be a continuous process. If you have limited resources, you can stretch it out to once a year. This is extremely important if you want to stay compliant and in step with the latest trends in your business. In addition, if you schedule your software audit on a regular basis, you can make available on-demand historical reports that the security and IT teams, as well as auditors, can view upon request to demonstrate that controls and standards have been continuously enforced.
We hope this post helped you understand the importance of taking time and performing a software audit. It will help you better understand your software and check its robustness, security, maintainability, modifiability, and scalability.