Code Audit: What Is It and What it Means for Your Business?

Jerzy Zawadzki - Chief Technology Officer
7 minutes read

The code behind your website, app, or IT infrastructure is the backbone of your business. If it’s clean, secure, and well-optimized, your products can work to their full potential and keep user satisfaction as high as possible. Keeping the code in the top form just with your in-house team might be a bit of a problem though. What if you don’t have enough time or skills to run regular “check-ups” on your code to ensure everything works fine?


What is a code audit?

A code audit is a comprehensive review of a software program’s source code to discover bugs or inefficiencies inside it.During the audit, developers will inspect each line of code to look for:Bugs-prone fragments and vulnerabilitiesStructure Architectural issuesPotential performance problems, etc.After the audit is finished, the developers will then give the code owners a detailed report on the state of their codebase, together with their recommendations. This way, businesses can learn more about how their product works from the inside and what can be improved to make it work faster, smoother, or more securely. But there’s one more thing for which doing a code audit might be helpful. Namely, for examining how maintainable the codebase currently is and how well it can handle changes or updates in the future. That can save code owners plenty of time (and headaches) later on when they will want, for example, to add new functionality to the existing platform.

When and why should the code audit be conducted?

If you noticed that your developers started to spend most of their time patching issues and bugs inside the codebase or that the product seems to be running slower and slower, it might be a high time to run a code audit. The insight from the code audit and developer experience can also be helpful in some other situations, like:

When making major updates

The second situation when performing a code audit in advance can save you plenty of time (and your in-house team’s nerves as well) is when you want to add any significant changes to your current application. If your development team tries to, for example, add new functionality, without first examining the existing codebase, it might turn out that the latest features don’t mesh well with the older ones. Results? Additional workload for the development team who needs to rewrite and then test parts of the product to make everything work smoothly. If the codebase is examined before implementing any changes though, then you will know what issues you can expect and how to modify the development process to implement new features smoothly.

Bonus: performing a code audit before a major update is an excellent way to review older portions of code and ensure they are up-to-date with current best practices. And if they are not, you’ll know what areas you should optimize first thereby saving yourself troubles down the road.

For code maintainability

Software development is never a one-and-done project. The product needs regular updates and maintenance to stay in top condition. As the number of lines in the code grows, the code might become confusing or overblown - and that might cause updating and patching to consume far more time and resources than it initially needed. A code audit can highlight the areas that may be confusing, outdated, or redundant, all to make the code lines easier for developers to understand and work on in the future. In turn, this increases the project’s sustainability and makes it easier to update and scale it in the future. Moreover, a well-maintained codebase is also less likely to contain bugs or security vulnerabilities, giving your users a better experience.

To meet industry standards

Many industries, including healthcare, finance, and government, enforce strict software security and functionality regulations. Violating these regulations can result in severe penalties. This is where a code audit proves invaluable, as it will evaluate whether the product complies with all the necessary regulations and standards, highlighting areas you eventually need to improve. At Polcode, we have recently worked with an American startup, Medreliance, to improve their healthcare work platform website. For this task, we ran a code and security audit to understand the current state of their codebase and what we should do to boost the performance and security of their portal. You can read more about this project in the Medreliance case study.

To lower infrastructure costs

Have you noticed that your website or app has started to put a heavier load on your servers and other parts of your infrastructure? That’s something a code audit can help you with as well. The audit can spotlight any inefficient elements of your code. Identifying and fixing these issues can make the system run much smoother, and this way also requires fewer resources to operate effectively. For example, the audit might bring your attention to areas where the code could be optimized for better performance. The development team running the audit can then give their recommendations on how exactly the code should be optimized for the best results.

How does the code audit process look like at Polcode?

Now that you know how you can benefit from hiring development experts to perform a code audit on your product, let’s look at how we, at Polcode, are handling the auditing processes. The scope of the audit and its duration depends on the client's needs and requirements, so we can’t tell how long it might take without learning more about the product. We can guide you through the steps we do while running the audits - here are those.

Defining the scope

The initial step involves defining the scope of the code audit. In simpler words, we’ll chat with you about your product, goals, objectives for the project, and areas of the codebase for examining. The meeting will take around 1-2 hours - though they might take longer if the audit project is a larger one.

Collecting information

The next step is to gather information about the product and code to audit - documentation, code repositories, code of the applications you regularly use, and other relevant data. This information will help us identify potential issues and areas for improvement - for example, applications that are no longer used but are taking up resources. This step typically takes us about an hour, though it might take longer if there’s a large amount of data to gather and analyze.

Analyzing the code

Once we have the entire information we need for the audit, our developers will analyze the code line by line and note any issues they spotted. For this task, we’ll use either manual code review, automated code analysis, or a combination of both, depending on the project requirements. We’ll also examine the code's overall structure, quality, maintainability, security, and performance. We typically leave the audit in the hands of one dedicated developer, and it takes them a couple of days to complete the review.

Documenting the findings

After the audit is finished, we’ll to generate a report with our findings and suggestions. Inside the report, you will find:

  • The audited product quality characteristics tailored to your current situation and requirements.
  • Description of how well your current system handles each of those characteristics
  • Our findings, including any bugs, issues, and areas for optimization we found during the audit

Developing recommendations

Based on the findings of the code audit, we’ll then note and share with you our recommendations on how those issues inside your codebase can be addressed. These recommendations may include code refactoring, performance optimizations, or other tasks that will solve the problems we found during the audit. We’ll also add the suggestions to the audit report.

Summary meeting

After the audit report is delivered, we will schedule a summary meeting to discuss our findings and recommendations in more detail. You are also welcome to ask us questions or discuss any doubts and challenges you expect to face while implementing the recommendations - we’ll be happy to clarify those or help you tailor the recommendations to your specific needs.

Learn more about the health of your product business through a Code Audit

Are you now thinking that your product should also get a thorough “health check”? Why not let us, at Polcode, take care of it? We run these kinds of audits regularly so we know exactly what we should look for during the examinations - and how to customize our recommendations to each client’s specific needs. One of our recent audit clients is Secure Bancard, and here’s what they have to say about the process:

We were referred to Polcode to perform an audit of our software application. The Polcode team demonstrated consistent professionalism, excellent communication throughout the process, and delivered exceptionally well. Their report allowed us to prioritize our ongoing maintenance related to the application, which is exactly what we were hoping to achieve. We would recommend Polcode to anyone looking to engage them for a similar project.

Kevin Smith Secure Bancard Chief Executive Officer

Want to get your own detailed code audit? Reach out to us through the form on our website, and we’ll schedule a meeting during which we’ll talk more about your needs and goals for the audit.

Conclusion

Just as we need regular health check-ups, your website or app code needs a regular examination as well. That’s exactly what a code audit is for - to determine whether your product is in top form or if some issues need to be tackled. You might not have the time or resources to run it in-house though. That’s where you can count on Polcode. We’ll take your product for a thorough check-up and then provide you with a detailed report, along with our recommendations on how you can make your product work like a new. So, when will you schedule a check-up with us?

On-demand webinar: Moving Forward From Legacy Systems

We’ll walk you through how to think about an upgrade, refactor, or migration project to your codebase. By the end of this webinar, you’ll have a step-by-step plan to move away from the legacy system.

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moving forward from legacy systems - webinar

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