IT Auditing: What is it and why is it important for your business?
In this article, we’ll look at what IT auditing really is, explore some of its key processes and discover why it’s so important.
But first, in order to frame the role of IT auditing, take a look at the following quote:
“What you do today can improve all your tomorrows” – Ralph S. Marston
So, what does a quote from a motivational speaker have to do with IT auditing?
Well, an IT auditor must assess and evaluate current IT processes and infrastructure. In essence they must see tomorrow’s risks, today – and this in turn, ensures that a business is best placed for growth and improvement. As a result, it can navigate challenges effectively and efficiently.
As such, an IT auditor works to improve an organisation’s future.
What is IT Auditing?
IT auditing is the process of evaluating and reporting on IT systems, procedures and infrastructure for an organisation, with the view of improving management of risks.
Providing objective assurance to businesses, IT audits are a way to ensure business growth while mitigating any IT risks. In addition, IT auditing keeps businesses compliant with GDPR regulations and secures them from IT security risks.
That is, to assess data, security, technology development and to ensure IT governance and compliance.
Micro Pro IT Audits & Reviews
At Micro Pro, our IT audits and reviews can assess an entire business. But they can also evaluate particular aspects of a business too.
For instance, with our IT Support audits we’ll assess any clients connected servers, networks, intranets, telecommunications and other infrastructure to keep your business running smoothly. In addition, we can evaluate all systems and applications to ensure they remain reliable, controlled, efficient and secure.
We understand that our customers are running a business and so we know the value of having systems that work for you. You shouldn’t have to spend time worrying about whether your system is secure or if your existing IT infrastructure is fit for purpose.
Alternatively, we can help audit a particular project and create risk profiles and assessments. As a result, businesses can undertake IT projects with peace of mind, as they will be aware of any potential bumps down the road.
IT auditing and reviews also help companies to innovate, ensuring all technology is working at optimum levels and is up-to-date. Reviewing your IT processes regularly also means that businesses can quickly adopt and integrate new technology easily and reap the benefits of doing so.
Keeping current is essential for businesses that want to stay relevant, competitive and retain customers. IT audits ensure you always maintain the edge over slower or outdated systems used by your competitors.
Of course, no business owner wants to lose money or clients due to inefficient systems or outdated tech. As such, IT audits are crucial for enabling a business to grow and succeed.
IT Auditing Benchmarks
IT auditing experts will carry out their audits against relevant standards or set practices. There are a number of IT audit standards that exist. However at Micro Pro we carry out audits in line with ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 as best practices.
ISO 27001 is an international standard for an information security management system (ISMS). It provides a systematic approach to business or organisational security and covers employees, IT processes, infrastructure and technology.
Of course, compliant organisations can achieve ISO 27001 certification to demonstrate that they are following best practice. A large part of the process to demonstrate your commitment to compliance is by carrying out regular IT audits.
ISO 9001 is the international standard for ensuring a quality management system (QMS). At Micro Pro we use it to provide an extra level of assurance to our clients. So, you can feel confident in our ability to meet project aims and objectives. In short, it helps us carry out our IT auditing services in line with your business goals. So we don’t just audit, we support your business growth.
At Micro Pro, we use ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 as benchmarks because they are both internationally recognised standards. It ensures our clients know that we will offer the very best quality and service.
Growing Your Business With Regular IT Auditing
For businesses to thrive and see growth, there are a number of things that business owners may consider doing. Examples include:
- Being able to participate in new technology
- Leveraging large data sets to drive decision making
- Transforming business models to keep up with competitors
- Entering mergers, partnerships or acquisitions
These things are all done to give companies a competitive edge or boost their growth. As such, they all present trials and opportunities. IT auditing takes all of these factors and assesses the IT and technology processes and systems involved.
Once assessed, an IT auditor will effectively evaluate how to efficiently deliver results or respond rapidly to associated challenges.
In fact, the role of an IT auditor is exhaustive. This is due to the fact that they must pool their unique expertise and experience.
What Does the Role of an IT Auditor Involve?
First, an IT auditor must be able to understand and focus on core IT activities. As well as keep up-to-date with the latest technological developments so they can advise accordingly. Naturally, this is no small task especially given the rate that technology progresses.
As such, it requires IT professionals to be multi-skilled. Not only that but they also need to be able to predict the future. Or rather, see tomorrow’s risks, today.
Why IT Auditing is Not Just Compliance Testing
It’s easy to assume that IT audits are solely concerned with compliance. However, IT auditors report on discrepancies or exceptions to existing rules. As opposed to ensuring people and companies conform to them, which is the responsibility of IT managers.
In fact, rule conformity is actually not that important for IT auditors. What is important to them is assessing IT systems and processes that monitor compliance. As well as ensuring that these systems and processes are effective, fit for purpose and efficient.
Overall, they evaluate the effectiveness of compliance. Identifying if they are designed well enough to meet business objectives and mitigate unnecessary risks.
Of course, that’s not to say that failure to comply isn’t a consideration for auditors. Rather, compliance is a risk issue. For the most part, failure to comply with existing rules is usually a by-product of a much bigger problem. Whether this is a faulty system or an ineffective IT process is what an IT auditor seeks to identify.
Three Tenets of IT Auditing
There are three main tenets of effective IT auditing. These include:
- Analysis of existing environment
- Ability to highlight any risks (current and future)
- Identify resources needed to mitigate risks
Let’s look at each of these processes in more detail.
Analysis of existing environment
When you work with an IT auditor, they will work to understand your business in detail. IT auditing involves reviewing your business’s current IT organisational structure, your IT policies and IT procedures (including related documentation).
Overall, they’re looking for strengths and identify any weaknesses. They may even observe your processes and speak directly with your IT management and staff. This is to ensure they can assess your IT processes, systems and infrastructure from both an internal and external standpoint.
Ability to highlight any risks
Next, they’ll work to examine and sense check all aspects. The result of which will indicate which areas require further action or auditing. Of course, this will highlight any risks to the business, whether data, system, compliance or process related. During this stage they will explain what these risks are and how they could affect your business.
Identify resources needed to mitigate risks
Lastly, an IT auditor will then assist you in identifying the resources or solutions required to mitigate any of these risks and to ensure everything is fit for purpose. As well as those which may protect your business from future risks. In many cases, IT auditors will identify hardware, software and processes that will not only protect your business but make it more scalable, efficient and profitable.
The Importance of IT Audits
IT audits simultaneously protect your company, employees and infrastructure. An effective IT audit will utilise the strategic IT analysis and assessment of an IT expert.
Despite this, only 35% of businesses in the UK have undertaken a cybersecurity audit. This figure is even more alarming when you consider that almost half (46%) of UK organisations and businesses have reported breaches in the past 12 months. Why is the number so high?
It’s apparent that many business owners and IT managers aren’t taking IT auditing seriously
Naturally, all businesses require differing strategies based on their resources and objectives. However, it’s up to business owners and managers to ensure that their company, their employees and their infrastructure remain safe. As well as protecting customer data and staying compliant with regulations such as the GDPR.
If your business isn’t sure how to conduct an audit, get in touch with experts who can guide you or provide IT auditing for you.
Of course, for transparency, we recommend conducting external audits. Often, an external IT auditor has an objectivity that can directly benefit your business and can reduce mistakes.
For instance, at Micro Pro we’ve conducted IT audits for multiple businesses; keeping them safe, identifying problems or gaps and implementing solutions.
Technology is Everywhere
IT and technology is integrated into everything. From personal banking and streamlining airport check-in processes to communicating with our friends and loved ones.
For example, take the time to consider your own role. Chances are, most or all processes in your profession factor in IT or technology in some capacity.
But let’s look at an example demonstrating the role of IT & technology for a lawyer.
Example 1: The Role of IT for Legal Professionals
It may surprise you to learn just how important IT support for law firms is. As well as the usual office management productivity suites like Office 365, the average law firm is full of legal specific software and systems.
From specialist legal software to industry specific legal practice management systems such as Athennian or App4Legal.
An IT audit in this case would ensure that all systems were up-to-date and running at optimum speed. As well enable a law firm to run IT processes smoothly across multiple locations and offices.
Regularly reviewing legal practice software and other systems ensures reduced risk of compliance issues too. After all, IT should work for you so that you can perform your role, not hold you back or slow you down.
For instance, a legal firm IT audit can focus on best practices for both systems and IT infrastructure and environments. Focusing on IT security, workflows, productivity, IT infrastructure, GDPR processes and compliance, as well as looking at ways to reduce or maintain overall IT costs without affecting quality or efficiency.
A law firm must strictly adhere to laws, rules and regulations
Consider the ramifications of a law firm not being fully GDPR compliant. Or falling prey to a data breach or cyber attack. For a legal firm, not only is this damaging financially, but it would tarnish their trustworthy reputation considerably.
In addition, if a law firm can break the law, or leak confidential information, even accidentally, it reflects badly on all lawyers that work there.
Think about it. Would you hire a lawyer belonging to a law firm that had put sensitive and confidential client data at risk? Absolutely not.
That’s why the legal profession requires the very best IT security and processes. In addition, it’s imperative that their processes and systems are maintained and audited regularly.
IT is an essential part of a legal firm and lawyers rely on secure IT processes to carry out their role.
However, even job roles where at first glance appear unreliant on IT, have some form of IT process involved.
For example, a dairy farmer.
Seemingly this couldn’t be further from IT. In fact, compared to a legal professional it doesn’t come close, right?
However, let’s look in more detail at the role that IT plays in dairy farming.
Example 2: The Many IT Processes involved in Dairy Farming
Today, many dairy farmers rely on technology to track and record their herds habits and overall health.
In fact, one US dairy producer, the Southwest Regional Dairy Center, uses Fitbit technology to monitor their herd.
In addition, many farmers and agricultural experts employ the use of drones to monitor their land and its perimeters.
The addition of technology is actually making it easier for farmers to monitor their livestock.
Where once, a farmer would have to wake up early to check on their herd and assess the health of each individual cow.
Now, with the help of software, they can refer to their computer and monitor the entire herd more efficiently. As a result, their time is freed up to focus on other tasks – not just the ones that require manual labour.
Selling their milk and dairy products also relies heavily on IT processes. The ability to track and monitor financial, vendor and annual profit margin data included.
Each IT process will require auditing to make sure that it is safe, secure and fit for purpose.
Regular IT Auditing is a Necessity
Undeniably, IT is an inherent part of any business, from cattle farming to law firms and their bespoke IT strategy. Therefore, it’s importance should not be underestimated. In fact, ensuring you regularly monitor and audit this integral area of your business is essential.
Not only for your business, but you owe it to your employees and your customers or clients. Keeping their sensitive data secure and protected from cyber attacks and potential breaches is important.
If you eventually run into problems later down the line, you don’t want to be asking “How could this have been avoided?”. Nor do you want to find out that the last time you audited was three years ago. By making regular audits and reviews a part of your business, you’ll be in a better position to focus on growth.
In fact, at Micro Pro we can provide monthly or quarterly Strategic Business Reviews. These cover many of the aspects of auditing mentioned as an ongoing process. As such, it allows us to create a living IT strategic roadmap and budget.
However, we also carry out audits for new clients. That way, we can provide useful, practical and important information. As well as highlighting any risks and guiding IT decisions to help businesses prioritise projects for maximum improvement and return on investment.
We even credit the cost of these audits to their IT service agreement after 6 months of an IT support agreement being established, to be used towards IT projects and further improvements.
Technology requires us to embrace change but it’s also growing faster than many businesses can keep up with. Business owners may believe their IT security protocols, software and processes to be bulletproof. But in actuality, without regular checks or auditing, the risk of cyber attacks or data breaches is inevitable.
Regular IT auditing negates this risk. It mitigates the threats that all businesses face and can help to future proof an organisation. Much in the same way your car needs regular MOTs, your business needs regular IT auditing.
Even if previous audits received good results, it’s important not to get complacent. You may have fixed all of the issues it highlighted, but it doesn’t stop there. Auditing is a continuous process, especially in terms of IT, where technology evolves rapidly. For instance, updates to applications or processes will undoubtedly introduce new or previously encountered risks.
Your audit process where possible should be helmed by experts
These IT experts will:
- Understand key IT activities and processes
- Know how to analyse and assess any IT or tech related systems
- Remain up-to-date with the latest developments in IT and tech
- Mitigate risks or draw attention to them
- Be good communicators
- Predict future or potential risks
- Be impartial and objective
As such, a good IT auditor needs to be experienced and adept at many things.
At Micro Pro, we have over 20 years experience. As a result we’re experts at understanding, analysing and assessing IT processes, systems and infrastructure. We’re also up-to-date with the latest technologies. And have the knowledge to provide first-class IT auditing and reviews.
In addition, we pride ourselves on effective communication, and our customer service is acclaimed by our clients. Why not get in touch to see how our services can improve your business and keep you competitive?