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software audit

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A software audit is an internal or external review of a software program to check its quality, progress or adherence to plans, standards and regulations.

Software audits may be conducted for a number of reasons, including:

  • Verifying licensing compliance.
  • Monitoring for quality assurance (QA).
  • Compliance with industry standards.
  • Satisfying legal requirements.

For the organization, internal audits can be useful for improving efficiency, catching inactive licenses that can be dropped and finding problems before they can become licensing or regulatory issues in a third-party review. Third-party review typically focuses on software used beyond licensed rights, and external reviewers also won’t usually care if some licenses are unused. These different priorities mean it is advisable for an organization to conduct internal reviews prior to external audits.

An organization usually contracts with third-party reviewers and teams to provide independent verification of a software program’s compliance with development plans, industry standards, best practices and legal practices. Compliance audits may focus on adherence to IEEE standards or legal regulatory compliance. This kind of audit focus is especially important in the case of software used in critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR).

Software audits are often important and sometimes required. However, audits can be disruptive to a company's development and may place a financial strain on a project because of unbudgeted costs. Teams and management may be required to consult with auditors to ensure the process is complete and accurate. This consultation can take away from time spent on work. Since time is important, organizations should refrain from overdoing audits and executives should understand how, why and when audits are conducted so they can best prepare for them.

This was last updated in July 2017

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