The primary purpose of a technology audit is to create an accurate list of all of the technology-related equipment and programs owned or operated by an organization. There are three areas of focus for a technology audit: hardware, software and infrastructure. A technology audit typically is completed once per year as part of the organization's year-end procedures.
The data collected during a technology audit is used to create a snapshot of the current level of investment in information technology. For financial statements, equipment valuations can be updated based on the audit. The other use for this data is to create benchmarks for long-term and short-term technology plans.
The first step required to complete a technology audit is to create an inventory worksheet for hardware, software and infrastructure. The data from the prior year is used as a starting point, then an inventory check is conducted. Most inventory lists include the location of each piece of equipment, which is the best place to start. Each piece of equipment is inspected to confirm its location and determine its appropriate value. Software licensing agreements are reviewed to determine payments due in and the number of licenses available.
The next stage of a technology audit is to adjust the value listed in the financial statements for technology equipment to reflect the current market value. The results of the technology audit are used to decide which equipment is obsolete, reducing the value to zero. This can be based on the age of the equipment or hardware issues related to the equipment.
Technology audits normally are completed by operations support staff members. A certain level of computer knowledge is required to correctly identify each piece of equipment and the location of server rooms and networking cables. In large organizations, bar codes and scanners are used to track equipment as it is relocated throughout the year.
A software technology audit is less time-consuming to complete, because it simply is a matter of reviewing the license agreements for all of the software purchased. The most important part of this type of audit is to confirm the actual number of licenses in use and the overall contract costs. Many software contracts include a service level agreement that details upgrades, length of support for the current version and related costs. The contract costs must be compared to the actual costs in order for this relationship to be managed properly. Investing in a technology audit is an integral part of information technology strategic planning.