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How to Develop an Auditable Software?

By Arooj Shakeel
July 13, 2023

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Good software developers make products for today, but great developers make products for tomorrow, according to a mentor. When you are a computer science student trying to finish a class project that you know will never be seen again, that advice rings hollow.

Software development primarily involves translating a person’s idea into an algorithm that can be used programmatically to solve a problem. That thing does not just happen to be there. It must expand, transform, and adapt as the vision and the program’s environment change.

WordStar, a word processor that dominated the market from the 1970s until the turn of 2000, may be recognizable to some of you. It would be primarily obscure in popular culture if it weren’t for George R.R. Martin. 

The best illustration of what we are referring to is WordStar. When it was initially developed, it addressed an issue and still does so now. However, the environment has changed. It lacks functionality that, by more contemporary standards, is commonplace, and getting it to operate on newer computers is, at best, difficult.

Software is never finished, which is the crucial point. One can get the WordStar source code and modify it to operate on contemporary hardware, but what if the code was designed in a way that depends on a sluggish processor? Or what if you could only save data on a diskette for mysterious reasons? Further, those oddities would require more work to upgrade the software to match modern standards. 

Software should always be written with the future in mind. We give it flexibility so that it can scale quickly, and we document our code so that we can come back to it later. When we can’t offer assistance, we create valuable materials for our users to help them understand the product. Additionally, we make auditable software.


How to define auditable software?

The capacity of an auditor to examine a product accurately and efficiently is known as audibility. Although the phrase is most frequently used in financial contexts, it may also describe any activity we are attempting to learn anything about our company. We may get audits from inside our organization or from a third party. For instance, consultancy services frequently audit our operations to identify areas for improvement, and governmental organizations evaluate our companies to see if we adhere to compliance standards.

What aspects of software development are audited?

  • Code, Software, Databases, and Hardware
  • Customer data
  • The process of development
  • Access to users and security
  • adherence to local, state, federal, and international laws
  • While it would be impossible for a developer to account for every scenario, several guiding principles can support auditability.


A Crucial Component

Make documentation a crucial component of your software development life cycle. When an auditor needs to know what a specific function is doing or when you return to a project after a lengthy absence, thorough documentation will save you hours of frustration. It’s a case of “two birds, one stone.”

The objective is that documentation serves as both an introduction to the product and a window into the development team’s thinking for many individuals, auditors included. Despite all the negative things I might say about R, I have always thought it is pretty responsible that most R libraries provide a reference to the equation they are utilizing and an academic source. That dramatically reduces the workload for a literary reviewer.


Record Keeping

Record your development process, which is less directly tied to the program but just as crucial. Include everything from precise details like dates and meeting keynotes to more intricate details like the procedure used to decide which stories to prioritize over others. Your registration will make it easier for outsiders to comprehend how the process went.

Maintaining accurate records will enable you to audit the entire procedure and identify potential causes of the project’s derailment. This is crucial, especially for troubled initiatives. Contrarily, records determine why a project worked particularly successfully and how it can aid future attempts.

There are already several tools with excellent record-keeping capabilities. For instance, tracking and forecasting expenses is a strength shared by Azure and Amazon. It is effortless to determine the source of each spending in both situations. Make great use of these features.


Watch out for Legalese

Few individuals know the extensive work involved in producing a conforming product. Even something as straightforward as installing more customers in your workplace as a license permits might cause problems later. For third-party solutions, we must maintain meticulous records of each license and the restrictions attached (including open-source software).

User data is of particular importance. You need to speak to someone who has gone through the GDPR procedure to understand how daunting user privacy may be. Not only is it crucial that you keep track of all legal requirements but it may also be quite helpful if you incorporate methods into your code that allow people to verify that you are complying with them.


Foster a Culture That Values Audits

Usually, participating in audits more often knocks sense of how terrifying it can be to be under scrutiny by an outsider, mainly if they are unfamiliar with the software development process. This circumstance is prevalent and has somewhat damaged the reputation of audits and auditors.

You, your team, and your project can benefit significantly from these procedures. And if you have done your research, audits are not that difficult. Inform your team that while maintaining proper documentation, keeping track of everything they do, and adhering to the project’s legal restrictions will require more effort, it will ultimately save time.

Create KPI based on audit-positive actions and provide awards or bonuses as incentives. The team will see the advantages of this strategy after the audit occurs, and you pass with flying colors since this serves as a starting point for developing these behaviors.


In Conclusion

Software development is not a solitary endeavor, despite what the memes may suggest. We communicate with other people all the time, whether it is our management, our clients, or other outside parties. Building tools to efficiently connect with the outside world allows us to carry out our job with auditability in mind, allowing others to understand what we are doing and offer suggestions for improving the final result.

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