In today’s digital landscape, system-based audits are imperative. Software and other digital systems are constantly evolving entities. Advancements in one system can at times leave it incompatible with another, or new tools are developed that are better suited to your tasks than the ones you were previously using. One of the best ways to ensure that your systems are operating just as you need them to operate is through the use of a system-based audit.
When you are doing a system-based audit, you need to have a comprehensive knowledge of what systems your organization is using. You should also be well aware of any changing objectives, organization structures and staffing levels.
Collecting all of the data that you will need before you begin assessing everything is essential. Depending on what your organization does, there may be many interlocking systems that make up your larger, overall system. Every organization is different, but in general, you will need to look at a variety of data.
Costs of Systems
The time and money that go into the use and licensing of your systems are significant. Getting a breakdown of your expenses in funds and work hours will give you a complete picture of the true expense of your systems.
Areas of Redundancy
Are there areas of redundancy that can be eliminated? Perhaps a system update fixed an issue that required redundancy, or you haven't considered a redundancy problem when updating. Look into your systems and be sure that every moving part is needed.
System Landscape and Options
Understand what other products are on the market. Do these programs come cheaper, or do they have more of the tools that you need? Discussing these options with staff and with representatives of the system tools can give you the information that you will need to measure against your current systems.
If you are considering the advantages and disadvantages of a performance audit or the advantages of an information system audit, consider the effectiveness, efficiency and economy of systems.
Effectiveness of Systems
Are the current systems effective for what they are supposed to do? For example, if you have a company that sends out surveys for your organization, you should look at the results from the surveys.
Are you getting the data that you want? Are there any problems getting answers from your target demographic? Can you make notes or tag when and where you need it?
Even if you’re getting an acceptable result from your current system, there may be another that is better suited to your needs. Regularly assessing the effectiveness of your systems will allow you to keep up with competitors while keeping your costs down.
Efficiency of Systems
Are you getting the maximum efficiency possible out of your systems? How much time in work hours do your systems cost you? Is there anywhere in your process that is unnecessarily redundant?
Sometimes it is difficult for someone to assess efficiency from the inside. In these instances, hiring a contractor who is an efficiency expert could be your answer. These experts are trained to look for unneeded costs or redundancies and will report findings to you once their audit is completed.
Economy of Systems
Changing price structures is a common problem when dealing with digital software, storage and other systems. Competition can drive costs down, while new improvements or even company acquisitions can drive prices up. An in-depth look at your system costs will inform you of what you should and shouldn’t keep.
Once you have all of the data that you need, your audit shouldn’t consist of more than a one-to-one number check. The costs of each system you use and its counterparts, the ease of use and the specific tools can each be one metric. With these numbers, you should be able to easily see where you are overspending and where you can save money.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images