IT Audit: Better Prevent Than Cure. Auditors, Scope And Reasons
Better safe than sorry, or how to put one’s mind at ease.
Business runs smoothly, every part of the mechanism performs its routine function, and well-adjusted processes do not fail. Everybody is happy. Then, the first failure occurs, and panic breaks out. No one is sure what exactly is to be done to quickly fix the problems and restore profits, reputation, and comfort.
This situation may threaten to any business irrespective of its scope and level. Any problem that could have been detected and eliminated prior to growing critical, can “kill” a small business. As for a large enterprise, this may cost much time and efforts to put things right.
But the audits may be no less useful, where the critical problems do not actually exist. Hardly anyone will resist the temptation to improve and optimize the processes, products, and corporate relations.
The audit is a tool that allows to get rid of any fears in regard to eventual faults in your processes or project failures. This is an excellent chance promptly to remove bottlenecks, to foresee or eliminate eventual risks, to improve and optimize your project or workflows.
Today we are going to share our experience in using this effective tool to adjust and maintain a successful business in the field of mobile and web development.
WHAT IS THE REASON WE TOUCH ON THE TOPIC?
It's that simple: "living" through more and more new projects, we discover and fix problems and "pains" associated with all aspects of web and mobile development (and not only).
The last thing we want, to let the useful experience gained lie in archives "collecting dust". Therefore, our team not only develop web and mobile applications, but also perform audits sharing our expertise and best practices. And our article will run on the types of IT audits we perform.
IN WHAT WAY CAN THE AUDIT BE ORGANIZED?
YOU MAY CHECK YOURSELF
The team meets together and discusses any problems disrupting the process, risks, and ways to eliminate them.
But such self-check will be effective provided that:
- the team has developed working relations at the level when each process participant is ready to voice problems and seek solutions together with colleagues;
- working processes are transparent to the whole team;
- performance indicator statistics is kept;
- self-audits are initiated and supported by the management (any punishment excluded).
- free of charge (you only need to take into account the time spent by the employees involved);
- it can be conducted systematically on a regular basis.
- it takes time to establish the process and prepare the team for such activity (including psychologically);
- any verification of own work is limited to the scope of available knowledge and experience. From this point of view, an external professional opinion is much more effective.
YOU MAY ENGAGE AN EXPERT
An experienced duly qualified expert can quickly find bottlenecks in your system. Apart from the fact that this "outsider" takes a fresh look at the business, he/she is also aware of new trends and possess more extensive knowledge.
- weaknesses are identified not by the person involved;
- in case the expert's experience is more prominent than yours, he/she will bring some new ideas and changes to your company;
- the external expert has experience in implementing changes or can recommend a specialist to be assigned to this task.
- the team may resist changes due to lack of trust to the outsider;
- search for an experienced expert requires time and efforts.
Experience gained by Umbrella IT has proved, this is reasonable to offer IT audit services and consulting services in three areas:
1. Business Processes Audit
2. Technical Product Audit
3. Team Performance Audit
1. BUSINESS PROCESSES AUDIT
The reasonable optimization and automation of business-processes in most cases result in saving your time and efforts that can be devoted to other activities. As a result, the general business efficiency and profitability grow. This is what we have learned in the course of working on various projects, and this is what can be achieved by you.
WHEN MAY YOU NEED BUSINESS PROCESSES TO BE CHECKED?
Probably, you need it right now.
As a rule, while business is more or less "strong", few people do care about any improvements or whether anything shall be done to secure oneself against potential challenges.
Or even if we think about it, but look at the routine smoothly running process we see every day (not just see, but participate in), and we can miss things obvious for the onlooker.
WHAT DO WE DO AS AUDITORS?
- study the current processes and results achieved (performance indicators);
- identify bottlenecks of such processes;
- offer variants to remove the bottlenecks and to optimize and automate the processes that are poorly organized, take up a lot of time, or involve too many people;
- prepare a report based on the information technology audit results.
WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF THE BUSINESS PROCESSES AUDIT?
- list of bottlenecks in the processes
Having in hand the list of all weak spots that delay or overcomplicate the work in your company, you may look at your own business from a different perspective and get the complete and real picture for the state of things.
- recommendations for introducing changes and optimization
Having got the detailed recommendations and a reliable mentor in the person of the auditor, you will know exactly what changes are to be introduced and in what way, as well as what way to go along.
- risk assessment
The assessment will allow you getting the priorities right: what shall be in focus now based on the eventual risks and goals set.
2. TECHNICAL PRODUCT AUDIT
We have gained significant experience in information technology audit process for middle- and large scale businesses in the market for web and mobile development. Based thereon we offer to audit your products already released or still being developed according to the following parameters:
- review of code and application architecture;
- server architecture review;
- testing (functional, load, UI/UX, etc.)
WHEN MAY YOU NEED A TECHNICAL PRODUCT AUDIT?
- you have a previously written application that already runs, and you plan to move on to a new phase but doubt whether it makes sense to continue with the same product or is easier to start from scratch;
- you have one developer working on the project, and/or a development team that practices no code cross-review (in this case it is recommended to do a code review);
- you hired a new team, the team worked for a while (say, one month), and you want to check the quality of their work;
- there are no testers in your team
According to SmartBear survey, only 64% of the respondents felt satisfied with the quality of the software they deliver to the customer.
WHAT DO WE DO AS AUDITORS?
- identify bugs and vulnerabilities that could cause problems in the future;
- identify ways to eliminate bugs;
- define areas for optimization and give corresponding recommendations;
- review the code for compliance with best practices (security, SEO, data handling, UI / UX, etc.);
Tenable, in their highlights of the webinar on the 2017 trends in vulnerability management shows the following data:
- during the previous year 49% of organizations experienced one or more breaches;
- the most frequent issue was the software vulnerability problem or exploits.
- prepare a report based on the IT audit objectives and results.
WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF THE TECHNICAL PRODUCT AUDIT?
- list of the detected bugs and problems
Every item will be prioritized for you to distinguish easily the errors critical for your site/app that are to be immediately eliminated, from the small and insignificant errors that may cause problems in the future.
- recommendations for code improvement
“The application runs, and that’s it! This means, the code is also in good condition”, but nope. Sometimes this is the code that has some bugs, which do not let your app to attract more users, you are not on the top-lists, and some users experience downloading problems with your app, while you are completely unaware of it, unfortunately. But you hold the keys to the kingdom: learn the diagnosis and refresh your app!
- recommendations to optimize the server architecture
Stability, immunity to the increased loads, minimum costs for the server resource. This is exactly what you expect of your app, isn’t it? The purpose of the technical IT audit is to give you the clear assessment and recommendations to be followed in order to achieve this.
3. TEAM PERFORMANCE AUDIT
This type is logically implied by the previous one. Since we know the process from inside, accordingly, we can also check the process applied some other team of developers.
WHEN MAY YOU NEED THE TEAM PERFORMANCE AUDIT?
- in case of regular customer-related problems;
- in case of any misunderstanding within the team;
- provided the customer is often not satisfied with the results;
- in case of frequent assessment issues;
- if the deadlines are failed to be met on a regular basis, etc.
According to SmartBear survey, only 50% of the respondents agreed that their company meets the scheduled release terms on a regular basis.
No doubt, each team has its own approach to work and its own philosophy. But there are certain tools and techniques we can recommend, based on our own experience, which is aimed at improving efficiency and quality of the final product.
WHAT DO WE DO AS AUDITORS?
- study internal development-related processes of the team;
- verify process execution;
- identify any gaps and/or bottlenecks in the development process;
- check for reasonable roles assignment within the team;
- propose measures to optimize the current process;
- propose changes;
- prepare a report based on the results achieved.
WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF THE TEAM PERFORMANCE AUDIT?
- list of gaps and/or weaknesses in the team workflow
Be informed of the failures related to your process or team. Probably, you have chosen the wrong working model, or the responsibilities are assigned in the wrong way. The main thing is to clear it out as soon as possible and to use in practice the information obtained.
- recommendations for optimization
Forewarned is forearmed. You have in hands the list of the solutions offered, and need just to introduce it in your business strategic development plan.
- suggestions for changes
In certain cases changes are vital. Otherwise you will continue throwing funds to the winds, losing time and getting nervous because of the next failure to meet deadlines. It is more effective to pull out the undesirable plant with roots and to plant a new tree. Changes may vary in nature: from changing the working model to hiring the required staff or terminating employment with the ineffective employee.
Along with having reports with useful information in hand, there are some other benefits proving the importance of IT auditing in organizations:
- feeling safe - you are aware of any potential problems and risks as well as of the measures to be taken to avoid those and their frequency; while any other issues have been solved or are at the edge of being solved;
- time - you may focus your efforts on developing new ideas with the reviewed current processes behind you that will not let you down;
- rescue service - now you have an alarm button at hand: just push it, and the reliable expert is racing to rescue.
We told you what is IT audit and why it is important, but the story is to be continued. We are going to offer a more detailed description for each of three IT audit areas: follow new posts on our blog.
And if you prefer not to wait - contact Umbrella IT right now. We’ll be pleased to share our knowledge and expertise.