An ERP audit evaluates and assesses all aspects of an ERP implementation life cycle, such as information flows, security, data integrity, customisations, integrations, user access controls, software updates, performance bottlenecks, and more.
ERP audits provide a comprehensive health check to determine whether the system is fully aligned with business processes and objectives.
The purpose and importance of regular a ERP audit include:
- Improving system speed, response times, and overall performance
- Identifying process, data flow and integration inefficiencies
- Optimising configuration to support changing business needs
- Reducing disruptions and unplanned downtime
- Ensuring development and testing practices adhere to standard methodologies
- Providing recommendations to upgrade versions for new functionality
- Enhancing end user experience and productivity
By periodically conducting in-depth ERP audits, organisations can maximise their return on investment in these complex systems, reduce risks of issues going unnoticed, and ensure alignment with business goals.
Improved System Performance
Performing regular audits allows organizations to identify and address inefficiencies that hinder ERP system performance. Audits provide visibility into bottlenecks, latency issues, and suboptimal configurations that degrade speed and responsiveness.
- Common performance problems that can be uncovered include:
- Excessive load times for key transactions or reports
- Batch processing jobs that run longer than necessary
- Inefficient SQL queries leading to database bottlenecks
- Poor integration performance between ERP and 3rd party systems
- Page load delays due to misconfigured caching or indexing
By benchmarking speed and throughput metrics before and after an audit, organisations can quantify optimisation gains such as:
- % improvement in transaction response times
- % reduction in batch processing duration
- Faster report generation
- Increased records processed per hour during peak
- Lower SQL load /wait times
Addressing performance pain points leads to a more responsive ERP platform that meets business needs. Audits pinpoint areas requiring tuning or reconfiguration to prevent slowdowns over time.
Enhanced Data Integrity
An ERP audit validates data accuracy and ensures compliance with established data governance policies. By thoroughly testing system inputs and verifying outputs, an audit identifies any discrepancies that could indicate flawed or out-of-date data.
Auditors inspect data security protocols to check for vulnerabilities that could allow unauthorised changes or access. They examine permissions and request trails to detect inappropriate data activity such as suspicious deletions or modifications.
By reviewing an organisation’s data governance plan against actual practices, auditors determine whether employees adhere to defined policies around data entry, storage, usage, protection, and retention. If any policy violations or oversight risks emerge, corrective actions can be taken to strengthen data governance overall.
Proactively identifying policy gaps, system deficiencies, or employee training needs is key to avoiding potential breaches before they occur. An ERP audit sifts through all the data points and data flow processes to confirm integrity from end to end across the system landscape. This guards against distorted data analytics, impacting big decisions for the business.
An ERP audit identifies potential risks across key areas like security, compliance, and operations. By detecting vulnerabilities, organizations can quantify risk levels and prioritize mitigation strategies.
Identify Security, Compliance, and Disruption Risks
Auditors thoroughly evaluate system access controls, data protection policies, backup protocols, and disaster recovery plans. This reveals security gaps that could lead to breaches, lack of regulatory adherence, and business disruption. Documenting these deficiencies enables targeted remediation.
Quantify Risk Reduction
With an audit establishing baseline risk exposures, organizations can implement controls and then re-assess residual risk. Calculating risk reduction provides metrics to demonstrate the value of ongoing audits coupled with risk management initiatives.
Risk Mitigation Strategies
Common strategies to mitigate identified ERP risks include restricting user access, encrypting sensitive data, instituting system change controls, refining incident response procedures, ensuring redundancy for critical infrastructure, and implementing cybersecurity awareness training. By applying recommendations from ERP audits, organizations vastly improve risk posture.
Optimised Business Processes
An ERP audit enables organisations to thoroughly analyse and evaluate all business processes tied to the ERP system, from manufacturing to distribution to accounting. This helps identify process redundancies, inefficiencies, delays, overheads, and unnecessary steps that hinder an organization’s productivity and performance.
By eliminating these process bottlenecks and constraints through an ERP audit, the workflows across departments can be streamlined, automated and optimized for maximum efficiency. Removing duplicated data handling, redundant reporting, and other repetitive activities helps boost overall productivity. Manual tasks can be reduced, with some automated through system configurations or workflow improvements.
Through process analysis and mapping during an ERP audit, opportunities to enhance straight-through processing, reduce cycle times, and increase workflow velocity can be uncovered. Process improvements and optimization initiatives help organizations operate in a lean and efficient manner, enabling them to deliver outputs and services to customers and stakeholders in the shortest time possible. Tighter process integration across systems and departments also improves information access and accelerates decision making.
Ultimately, ERP audits enable organizations to boost their overall productivity, agility, speed and business performance through process improvements. The optimization insights help transform operations to align processes for peak efficiency and effectiveness.
Performing regular ERP audits helps ensure your organization stays compliant with various regulations, internal policies, and contractual obligations related to your ERP system and data.
When an ERP audit evaluates aspects like access controls, data security protocols, change management procedures and more, it shines a light on any potential compliance gaps or violations that may exist in your ERP environment. This gives you the opportunity to take corrective action before those gaps result in negative consequences like regulatory penalties, lawsuits, or loss of stakeholder trust.
Some key areas of compliance that are strengthened through routine ERP auditing include:
Depending on your industry, there are likely various government regulations related to data governance, privacy, and IT security that your ERP system needs to adhere to. Performing routine compliance audits of the system can validate that all controls, settings, and procedures are meeting the necessary regulatory requirements.
Most organisations also have their own set of internal data governance, privacy, security, and IT usage policies in place for employees to follow. An ERP audit verifies whether everyone across the organization is following these policies properly when using or interacting with the ERP platform.
There may also be specific ERP compliance criteria spelled out as part of contractual agreements with customers/clients, vendors, and other third-parties that have access to your system data. Auditing your ERP helps uphold your end of any data security, privacy or integrity obligations stipulated in those contracts.
Informed Decision Making
ERP audit insights empower enterprises with the information needed to make critical decisions regarding system upgrades, maintenance, and optimization. By reviewing audit reports, organizations gain visibility into:
Current System Configuration
An audit provides greater clarity around the existing system landscape – from the modules, integrations, and customizations in place to user roles and access levels configured. This system configuration insight enables leadership to determine what is working well and what needs to change.
Upgrade Necessity & Timing
Objective data from the audit can validate (or invalidate) any assumptions around the business drivers, urgency, and prerequisite steps for a system upgrade. Rather than “gut feel”, enterprises rely on audit findings to plan upgrade projects justified by fact-based business needs.
Future Roadmap Priorities
An audit offers directional guidance for the ERP roadmap by spotlighting process and technical pain points. Leadership can prioritize near-term fixes vs longer-term enhancements based directly on audit recommendations. Data issues take precedence over new integrations or capabilities.
Cost-saving Quick Wins
While some audit findings demand heavyweight projects, others offer lighter quick win opportunities. By identifying unused licenses, redundant applications, and policy non-compliance, an audit highlights cost-savings that leadership can rapidly act on.
In summary, ERP audits deliver data-driven insights that remove organizational blind spots around system health, performance, and strategy. Leadership no longer speculates – instead, audit reports provide the tangible evidence to justify maintenance investments and optimise systems for the future.
During an ERP audit, there are further benefits that should be considered:
Improved User Adoption
An ERP audit provides an opportunity to review and improve user adoption practices. By analysing current adoption levels across the organisation, specific user groups with low engagement can be identified and targeted for improved training and change management initiatives.
This allows an organisation to maximise return on investment in their ERP system.
Enhanced Change Management
Auditing also facilitates improved change management when modifications are required in an ERP system. Assessing the current state of the system allows organisations to better plan for and adapt to upcoming changes and integrations. User preparation and communication strategies can be enhanced to smooth major ERP transitions.
Financial and Risk Management Benefits
In addition to operational advantages, an ERP audit lends various financial benefits. It allows organisations to identify the full costs associated with system maintenance and highlights areas of risk or inefficiency that result in cost overruns or revenue leakage.
Addressing these improves the ROI derived from the organisation’s ERP investment over the long term. Tightening security and controls through auditing also reduces the financial impact of potential data breaches.
In summary, a comprehensive ERP audit provides wide-ranging additional gains spanning user adoption, change management, training, and financial oversight. It is a valuable mechanism for organisations to optimize their ERP systems.
When undertaking an ERP audit, most experts recommend adhering to the following best practices:
Regularly Scheduled Audits
Conducting ERP audits on a regular basis, such as annually or biannually, creates consistency while allowing organizations to stay ahead of emerging issues. It also enables the development and adherence of standardised audit procedures over time. Regular audits make it easier to compare findings year-over-year to identify ongoing problem areas as well as successes achieved through preventative measures undertaken based on previous audits.
Involving Various Stakeholders
Including stakeholders from multiple departments and various hierarchy levels ensures a more comprehensive audit encompassing diverse viewpoints and perspectives. It also increases stakeholder buy-in when implementing subsequent recommendations and change initiatives based on the audit findings. Stakeholders to consider involving include ERP managers, key end users, subject matter experts from both business and IT, and potentially even external auditors who can offer an independent assessment.
Conducting a regular ERP audit offers a range of benefits that can help organisations enhance system performance, improve data integrity, reduce risk, optimise business processes, strengthen compliance, and empower leadership with the insights needed to make strategic decisions about their ERP system.
As evidenced above, organisations stand to gain tremendously by making ERP audits a standard part of their risk management, compliance, and continuous improvement initiatives. Audits provide the visibility required to maximize ROI from ERP investments and keep infrastructure aligned with evolving business objectives. They enhance security, facilitate digital transformation, heighten efficiency, and reduce costs over the long term.
The time is now for leadership at all levels to evaluate current ERP management practices and map out a proactive plan for auditing that meets organizational needs. While manual audits are better than none at all, purpose-built solutions can automate the process to save time and money while avoiding shutdowns. The ideal frequency will vary based on an organization’s size, industry, compliance regimen, and other factors.
Regardless of approach, audits should provide insights to inform strategies around system configuration, integration, administration, data, security, infrastructure, workflows and more. The potential gains make ERP audits one of the most worthwhile investments an organisation can make to keep operations aligned, efficient and prepared for ongoing success.
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