We call them ‘healthchecks’. You might call them ‘system reviews’. But, whatever name they go by, system audits are rarely an easy sell with the director or the board. They can take a long time to complete, the associated costs may not have been budgeted for and they might divert resources from the delivery of other business projects.
Whilst that may sound pretty damning, the truth is that they actually provide value and competitive advantage, if you know how to leverage them. So, if you’re struggling to get sign-off, we’ve prepared the business case for regular system audits…
System audits improve cost efficiencies and return on investment
One of the major benefits of a system audit is that it can help you assess how those systems are performing. Whether it’s shelfware or a bespoke system, you need to ensure that you’re getting a return from your investment and the system is performing as it should be.
Whilst this could mean examining the underlying code, a system audit also takes how the system is being used into consideration, identifying solutions to improve efficiency and performance.
Many organisations will have business critical systems, yet fail to properly utilise them. In the case of legacy systems, many of your most senior employees may not know how a system functions, which can cause significant inefficiencies and is, in essence, a wasted investment and use of budget.
It’s important to remember that the person or team performing the audit need to be impartial, which is why businesses often engage a third party or external supplier. This ensures that there is no vested interest in the review, so you don’t end up with the developer of a system trying to gloss over it’s flaws and inefficiencies.
System audits can be required for valuable system accreditations
As data and information security becomes more important to clients and consumers, demonstrating the security capabilities through an accreditation or industry standard will become even more valuable for businesses.
Often, accredited certifications and regulatory frameworks will require evidence of regular and robust system audits. If your business wants to achieve or maintain ISO 27001 standards, you’ll need to have a system audit in place.
Not only will a system audit help you demonstrate that your business meets the necessary standards, it will also identify any problems and resolve them if there are gaps in your system security.
System audits ensure legal compliance with licensing agreements
A robust system audit will consider the terms of your software licensing and any compliance issues that you may not be aware of. It may not sound exciting but it could save your business tens of thousands of pounds.
If you’re a large business or enterprise using shelfware, eventually the publisher will come calling with a software audit request to ensure that you’re fulfilling the terms of your contract. They want to see if you’re using more software than you should be, which they are legally entitled to do.
The number of software audit requests are only going to increase as well, as publishers like Microsoft, IBM and Adobe respond to rising cloud integration, which makes the issue of licensing significantly more complex.
As software is moved to a cloud environment in your own data centre, you open yourself up to a number of licensing issues. For all of the benefits, it also makes it very easy for users to take on more services than they need and violate license agreements. In fact, because it is harder to track, simply moving to the cloud may alert a publisher that it’s high time for a software audit.
A system audit, however, catches this early and rectifies it by identifying if you are overbuying or underbuying, which is well worth doing, because…
System audits protect your business from penalties and outstanding fees
If you are found to be using more than your agreement indicates, you could be liable for penalties, retroactive charges and outstanding licence fees. By this point, it will be too late to revise your licence and someone will be in hot water for not having identified the problem sooner.
Of course, regular system audits can prevent this from ever happening, ensuring that you’re fully compliant with your licensing and terms of service. Not only that, they also minimise any business disruption software audit requests can have, by providing readily available usage data.
So, it’s pretty plain to see that in this case, the prevention (a regular system audit) is much, much better than the cure (paying a lot of money in penalties).
If your business needs support with an external system audit, or to discuss your business software needs, talk to us today, or call us on 0203 281 7342.