IT Audit: A Guide to Run a Comprehensive Audit

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things” — Peter Drucker.

In our post, “SaaS User Management: How to Track Employee SaaS Usage,” we quoted Peter Drucker. In addition to the above quote, he said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

Both quotes are good advice. Most leaders know what to do and how to do it when it comes to general business operations.

But when it comes to the changing speed of information technology, knowing what to do is harder to determine. Today’s technology—not to mention the laws and regulations—shift frequently.

So, as a leader, how do you keep track of knowing what the right things are and if you’re doing them right?

We recommend IT audits. IT audits help you know whether you’re doing the right things (and if you’re doing them right). They empower you to lead and manage.

What is an IT audit?

An information technology (IT) audit is the process by which an auditor reviews, analyzes, and assesses the state of your IT infrastructure, information assets, and cybersecurity. The audit process checks for compliance, efficiency, and IT risk management integrity, and it can extend to anything relying on an IT infrastructure like:

  • Networks
  • Programs
  • Security systems
  • Software, including Software as a Service (SaaS)

The tech industry might also refer to IT audits as automated data processing (ADP) audits or computer audits. IT audits were also once called electronic data processing (EDP) audits not long ago.

Why is an IT audit important?

The following are a few key reasons why you should conduct an IT audit for your business.

Better Business Performance

Organizations that conduct regular IT audits perform better. Audits confirm your company’s health, identify opportunities for improvement, and ensure your IT aligns with your business objectives. They can also help you review the state of your SaaS stack, SaaS spend, data integrity, development, IT governance, and security.

The mere act of performing audits also improves communications between departments while testing gaps in system and process integrity.

2. Better IT Governance

The vital function of IT audits is to ensure your company’s employees meet business laws, compliance, and regulations requirements. Also, in achieving compliance or certification, an IT audit can provide credibility to your company’s operation.

+ Read next: “What Every SaaS Business Should Know About Compliance

Learn more: “SaaS Security and Compliance for HR.”

3. Reduced Cyber Threat Risk

IT audits ensure your company protects its sensitive data, including checks for appropriate hardware, software, and personnel. Organizations that rely on technology could suffer from technological errors if left unchecked, leading to cyber threat vulnerabilities.

Audits help you evaluate your business processes and systems to identify possible information security risks. These risks could leave your company’s data open to external and internal attacks.

How IT audits can work in your business

Establish an IT auditing standard

Before you conduct an audit, your organization should establish an IT auditing standard. Ask at least these three questions:

  1. How often should your company conduct IT audits?
  2. Which type of IT audits should it run?
  3. Which audits are necessary to achieve and maintain compliance with business laws and regulations?

Check out the “Ultimate SOC 2 Compliance Checklist [For 2021]

Employ an IT auditor if possible

Organizations might need to hire internal or external auditors as needed. Internal auditors might run the day-to-day auditing while external auditors might be called in for special projects.

What does an IT auditor do?

Per CIO.com, an IT auditor analyzes and conducts a company’s IT infrastructure risk assessment. They aim to identify obstacles that prevent your organization from achieving compliance, maximizing efficiency, and managing risk effectively.

Should an auditor find an issue, they submit audit reports to your stakeholders, including recommended solutions and change processes and systems.

An IT auditor is responsible for developing, implementing, testing, and evaluating audit review procedures. Using several frameworks, IT auditors can test the effectiveness and efficiency of the company’s operations, data accuracy, and information authenticity.

An IT auditor conducts various types of audits, including:

  • Client-server telecommunications intranets and extranets
  • Information processing facilities
  • Innovative comparison audit
  • Management of IT and enterprise architecture
  • Systems and application control
  • Systems development
  • Technological innovation process
  • Technological position audit

When is an IT audit necessary?

Your company should conduct routine internal audits as part of a health checkup on its systems and operations—it’s up to you what cadence meets the needs of your systems and stakeholders.

However, you must conduct audits as needed to maintain compliance, especially when it comes to business laws and regulations.

IT audit checklist sample

While your organization might need to modify the list to fit its needs, this IT audit checklist will provide a helpful framework. The checklist covers four main areas: security, regulatory compliance, data backups, and hardware.

IT Security

Security checks refer to your company’s physical security, IT systems, and how they handle and protect sensitive data. Evaluate:

  • Access point and IT controls for proper authorization and function
  • Firewalls and intrusion systems to find holes
  • Procedures for proper documentation
  • Software to test how it manages sensitive data and its internal controls
  • Wireless networks to test for soundness

Regulatory compliance

Your organization might need to meet compliance with business laws and regulations for certification or merely general business health. To audit this area, evaluate the following standards that pertain to your industry:

  • Business laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
  • Regulatory requirements like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

For a more comprehensive list, check out “What Every SaaS Business Should Know About Compliance

Data backups

Your company should make data backups a part of its disaster recovery and business continuity planning. Moreover, your company should audit the process regularly to evaluate:

  • Business continuity (estimated downtime costs and affordability)
  • Last tested backup method
  • Offsite data storage
  • Time-span for a backup system recovery

Hardware

Even SaaS companies must have some hardware (like computers), and it’s vital to know what your company owns and how it’s used. To help, an IT asset management system with a configuration management database (CMBD) can maintain this inventory list. Your audit list should include:

  • Hardware inventory
  • Hardware age
  • Hardware performance demands

How Blissfully can help with your IT audit

Blissfully is suited to complement and support IT audits—from reviewing your SaaS tools and SaaS spending to checking compliance and security. Our platform can help automate your workflows for faster and more frequent interviews, data collection, and analysis automation.

It can also trigger stakeholders’ notifications to complete open tasks or set regular reminders to ensure everything gets done. By maintaining one record system, the platform can keep the right stakeholders involved and open communication lines.

To learn more about how Blissfully can help with your IT audits, request a demo today.