If there's anything all IT companies want to avoid at all cost, it's waste. Waste in IT resources can occur in many different areas, but it always produces detrimental effects — from increasing the employee working hours to making the development process much more expensive.
And it doesn't matter whether a company's software resources are located in-house or are outsourced. In both cases, they need to be productive and efficient.
To help organizations make the most out of their IT resources, specialized companies now offer a service called the software development process audit. In this article, we’ll show you the benefits of auditing software development processes and list everything that auditors take into account when assessing the use of IT resources.
What is a software audit?
A software development process audit is a continuous process that aims to maximize the success of a project by detecting its potential risks and weaknesses. This type of audit comes with another goal too: evaluating the performance of every single team member in the IT department.
When should you carry out a software development process audit?
It's possible to audit a software project at any time during the software development lifecycle. However, by auditing it during the early phases, you'll have a greater chance of improving the quality of the product which is being developed.
Who performs a software development process audit?
Most of the time, an audit is carried out by a varied team of professionals that comprises project managers, business analysts, and Quality Assurance (QA) specialists. The team examines every single phase of the software development lifecycle, from planning and creating to testing and deploying software.
The idea is identifying and eliminating procedures that are inefficient or unnecessary, ensuring that every single IT resource mobilized in a project brings tangible benefits. Moreover, an auditor can focus on the matters of implementation, such as the techniques, documents, tools, and procedures used to build a product.
Many organizations fall into the trap of not using the available processes and methods efficiently or using them in a way that is not related to the advantages of the final product. An audit team can evaluate both development process and project management workflows to make sure that everything is 100% optimized and the development work progresses mostly.
Such audits bring a lot of value to organizations because they pinpoint potential problem areas, show weaknesses and risks, and help to open everyone's eyes to direct opportunities for improvement in various aspects of the process.
All of the above is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some other benefits of software development process audits.
Benefits of auditing the software development process
1. By auditing software development, companies can check whether the software that appears to be working is actually doing what it is supposed to do. For example, auditors make sure that software analytics don't measure any metrics that are superficial or irrelevant.
2. Another perk of auditing a software development process is that it allows us to identify mismatches between the requirements and delivered features. These problems are more common than you would like to think. Most of the time, they result from misunderstandings between business and technical teams.
3. A software development process audit offers independent validation of the testing process and shows areas where it could be optimized.
4. It also brings an opportunity for mitigating potential risks that might crop up at any stage of the software development lifecycle. It's an excellent due diligence practice that helps organizations to increase the quality of their offerings.
5. Moreover, by carrying out an audit, organizations get advance notice of potential problem areas and can address these issues before they grow to become significant problems or even blockers.
6. Finally, experienced auditors who assess a software development lifecycle are usually able to identify the opportunities for growth and offer their recommendations for improvements, so that things run smoothly and resource use is optimal.
Read: IT Audit – Definition, Examples & Types
Elements of a software development process audit
When hiring a specialized company (like Codete) to carry out your software development process audit, expect the team to provide you with a custom approach to auditing software. However, many such audits processes include common elements. Here's a list of examples.
End-to-end process audit
This is where a specialist interviews all of the relevant stakeholders to get a better idea about their general satisfaction with the development process and its results. This type of investigation is launched to establish the defect rate and overall efficiency of the team's ability to deal with the defects.
Another area where auditors might look is requirements. They carry out interviews with people whose roles are closely connected to business analytics, even if it's not their formal job title. This role is critical for defining the needs that should be addressed by the software and the tests that match the criteria for acceptance.
Next, auditors might want to interview the solution developers and technical architects. The idea here is to gain a better understanding of their diligence towards addressing the requirements as well as assessing their technical capabilities and skills.
When hiring a company that specializes in auditing software development processes, expect to get a final report that synthesizes all of the findings in a single comprehensive document. The report often acts as a starting point for the overall improvement of the process.
How to improve your software development process
Building software is a complex task that requires skills and expertise in many different areas. However, there are some things you can take care of before launching your project to make sure that everyone in your team is prepared to face its complexities.
Here's a checklist of questions you should ask yourself at every stage of the software development lifecycle, similar to the ones auditors ask in their interviews and assessments.
- Does your product have a formal plan?
- Does your project plan include all of the key elements, such as: project definition and scope, cost-benefit analysis, project objectives, time estimates, risk analysis, and staffing requirements?
- Do you know what your critical success criteria are?
- Does your project plan specify the major deadlines and deliverables of the project?
- Are the scope, objectives, and costs communicated to all of the involved stakeholders?
Before getting started on a software development project, it's essential to establish the key elements of the project management strategy. These include the following points:
- status reporting structure and process,
- plan for project tracking and methodology,
- a risk management plan,
- software configuration management,
- software quality assurance processes.
Then it's time to assess the work to be done:
- Is it possible to break work into smaller components?
- Are the individual tasks assuming a reasonable duration?
- Does your project plan include methods of tracking milestone deliverables?
- Does your project identify the responsibilities for the following sprints?
- Have you established target dates for each milestone deliverable?
- Have you identified and written down the relationships and interdependencies between different activities?
- If the actual results vary substantially from the detailed project plan, are you planning to take any corrective actions?
- Are all of the product needs supported by your development team?
- Are all of the project dependencies clear to everyone?
- Are you sure that your database architecture and set up are well thought out? Do your database entities have descriptive names?
- Make sure that the staging environment uses the same database server version as the production environments. Moreover, the production database and other databases need to have backup plans to keep all of the data up-to-date.
- Double-check whether your database structure backup or migrations support is separated from the data, and your interactions are covered by automated tests.
- When it comes to the project codebase, check whether the project entities and folder structure are descriptive and/or follow any conventions.
- Do you have testing documentation that is available to all the team members?
- Is the developer testing documentation up-to-date?
- Are you using all of the necessary testing methods for your project?
- How will you be prioritizing bugs found in the current sprint?
- What is your process? Will you have a QA specialist and manager approve something before it's moved to production?
Software development process audit - conclusion
The outcome of an audit is the maximization of resource use and increasing the chances of a project to succeed. Most of the time, problems crop up not because of not lack of talent or creativity on your part, but inefficient usage of the available methods and processes.
Once all of the activities are described in detail and optimized for efficiency, it will save you a lot of valuable time and money – which you can then dedicate to other mission-critical tasks.
Our audit and consulting experience: Broker Genius case study
Our team helped Broker Genius to optimize the software development process and boost their efficiency in building their product and reaching critical business goals. The company was rapidly developing their solution when they reached out to us for help, following more than 3 years of working on it and releasing several successful versions to market.
Broker Genius were looking for a technology partner who would carry out a comprehensive audit and an in-depth analysis of their development processes, technology stack, and solutions. The company was hoping to get insights that would improve their processes and help achieve key business goals. This is how we have become their long-term consulting partners.
"Codete has provided tremendous value to Broker Genius over the past 4 years. We have used their services in a variety of ways ranging from auditing our technology, tech consulting, and staff augmentation. They are extremely honest and reliable. I visited them in Krakow for the first time about 4 months ago and was very impressed with their operation and team."
— Sam Sherman, CEO, Broker Genius
Read more: Broker Genius — audit and consulting case study
If you would like to learn more about what a software development process audit can bring you, get in touch with our consultants. We know how to carry out a low-pressure audit that identifies all of the gaps and finds the most efficient solutions for filling them.