Audits are one of those uncomfortable necessities in business, so it’s better to get accustomed to the process sooner than later.
A good analogy would be setting an appointment for a cleaning at the dentist. We know we have to do it, we dread it, but when the time finally comes, we simply get it over with and we’re happy it’s over. Plus, the experience is short and never that bad!
That’s exactly how we need to treat business audits of all kinds – especially a software audit. Software moves so fast, with huge implications for all aspects of business, so managing everything from SaaS subscriptions to large enterprise systems is key.
Here is why conducting a software audit is so important to your business, and some practical tips for how to make your next audit be smooth and successful.
Compliance and Legal Protection
We love all the things that software can do for our business, but if mismanaged, it can lead us to legal trouble. This brings us to rule no. 1 of software – don’t get in trouble!
“The audit mechanism is a way of coming to say, ‘Are you actually adhering to what we’ve set out in the terms and conditions?’” said Martin Thompson, Owner and Founder of IT Asset Management Review. “It’s a bit like a ticket inspector, walking down the train, and inspecting that you’ve got the correct ticket, yes, you might have bought a ticket, but are you on the right fare, or using the right sort of ticket, etc. Or it’s a bit like a house inspection, if you’re renting a house, they rented your house on certain conditions, and they pop around to make sure you’re looking after the property.”
Audits might seem unnecessary to you as you’re conducting daily activities, but remember that these software assets are the lifeblood of the companies that create and license them.
“We often don’t read the fine print when we install new software on our personal computers and smartphones, but the stakes are a bit higher in business,” said Jared Hines, CEO of Acre Gold. “Software audits are important because they teach us that the fine print actually matters. It puts positive pressure on us to make more informed decisions and not just blindly click through the agreements set out for us. And overall, an audit saves us from major legal issues that just aren’t worth fighting most of the time.”
Maximizing Efficiency and Expenses
It’s not just legal concerns that should convince you to take software audits more seriously. Saving time, money, and improving your business are more reasons to audit early and often.
“You can get some big breakthroughs and revelations about your business from a simple software audit, even if it’s just calculating the value versus cost of these assets,” said Jason Boehle, CEO of QuaGrowth. “Maybe you’ll discover that certain programs aren’t operating at peak capacity, or you need to reconsider your software strategy altogether. Without an audit, these discoveries may never come to light.”
It should come as no surprise that many companies underutilize their software licenses, which can be a reminder to make the most of these investments.
“We tend to buy software for one particular feature or use case, but forget about the many other things it can do,” said Jason Wong, CEO of Building Blocks. “Audits remind us to use the full range of features and let nothing go to waste. This can end up benefiting your business in new ways, or help you make smarter purchases moving forward.”
In an era of constant digital transformation, a well-timed audit can also teach us that “less is more” when it comes to software for business.
“One common outcome of a software audit is simply canceling a SaaS subscription or ditching an enterprise software suite that doesn’t appear to be worth the cost and effort,” said Chris Bridges, CEO of VITAL Card. “When you run the numbers and see how much of a time sink these programs can be, you realize it can’t be justified. It’s easy to get stuck in our ways when it comes to software, so an audit is a perfect mechanism to zoom out, weigh the pros and cons of these tools, and determine whether they should be kept or abandoned.”
Minimizing Risk and Security Threats
In case you need another reason to perform regular software audits, just consider the cybersecurity risks you face by neglecting this important practice.
“Enterprise software is different from consumer tech in terms of security, and companies are often tasked with keeping these systems secure and updated,” said Kashish Gupta, Founder and CEO of Hightouch. “It’s not as simple as pressing a software update on your phone or changing a password. Only with a software audit can you assess the security threats that you face in the IT environment, how to mitigate those risks, and prevent a worst-case scenario.”
It’s not just external threats that must be accounted for with an audit. Factors like human error within your own ranks (employees and team members) need to be addressed as well.
“Nobody is infallible, even those who have a natural aptitude for technology and are given the best training,” said Amaury Kosman, CEO of Circular Ring. “When you audit all the software in your company, you’re also reminding people of best practices and setting the bar higher for how they approach security and compliance generally. This is always a good idea, especially as people start working from home more and become less careful about these policies. A software audit keeps the pressure on everyone to stay smart and safe no matter where they are.”
We don’t need to look far to see the potential consequences of weakened security systems. Don’t let preventable mistakes happen to you.
“Data breaches are still common, and they can quickly destroy a company’s reputation,” said Heather Pulier, CEO of Outset Financial. “You can protect yourself by performing internal audits and bringing in other teams to help you. If the answer isn’t clear, look for assistance. Software creators know their tools best, so they can guide you in the right direction for performance and security.”
Aligning Key Business Goals
So much can be revealed when conducting a software audit, so let this be a way to illuminate new objectives and bring various teams within your business onto the same page.
“It’s possible that a software audit leads you to discover some major disconnects between departments, or redundancies that need to be eliminated,” said Rob Bartlett, CEO of WTFast. “Sometimes these realizations require the input of a third-party team, or just looking at things from a different perspective. That’s why you should never shy away from software audits, even if they seem inconvenient at the time. There are silver linings to be found if you are observant and look for opportunities.”
Instead of viewing a software audit as a painful process that doesn’t make a difference, see it as a major potential catalyst for change around the corner.
“Many companies start a software audit for basic security or compliance reasons, then find out later that there are some deeper, underlying issues related to how the business uses software in general,” said Eric Gist, CEO of Awesome OS. “Audits can also help you clean up your habits in terms of record-keeping and documentation, which is an important part of growing as a business. There’s always something to learn from an audit, even if it doesn’t appear immediately before your eyes.”
Setting High Standards and Best Practices
The old expression says, “how you do one thing is how you do everything”. This applies to software audits and their impact on the rest of your business.
“You will quickly see the ripple effect that a software audit has throughout your organization,” said Dan Bladen, Co-Founder and CEO of Kadence. “You will start calculating the costs and benefits of software more acutely. You don’t let things slide anymore. Everything is accounted for and you aren’t taking unnecessary risks. It’s a sign of evolution.”
Finally, remember to reflect on every audit instead of just burying it in the archives. This is how you maintain those high standards moving forward and make the next audit even easier.
“Think about what you’ve learned during this audit experience,” said Vida Sirmeniene, Product Manager at Ivanti. “Use this as an opportunity to be even better prepared for the inevitable next time. Update your IT policies and software asset management strategy. Apply the same knowledge for other vendor license management and resources within your business. Maintain documentation of all the data provided and audit outcomes. What you gather from a software audit can help you improve business practices across the board.”
We get it – software audits can be a bit like pulling teeth. But once you recognize the many benefits of a software audit, you’ll be eager to jump into the next one, making the most of this technology for your business.