Audits are necessary for identifying problems with your business and making improvements. They are pretty much thorough inspections that focus on a specific area of your business. Financial audits are the most common example, but you can carry out audits on various other aspects of your business too from marketing to security.
In many cases, an audit involves outsourcing a third-party service. That said, you can carry out your own internal audits – providing that you know what you’re looking for. Many businesses do not carry out audits regularly. Some may never carry out audits at all. However, you should ideally be organising them annually. Below are just a few business audits that are worth carrying out each year.
A financial audit can help you to better understand how you’re spending your money, and can also help you to make sure that your records are accurate so that you declare the right amount of tax. Big companies will typically carry out a financial audit every quarter. At the very least, you should be carrying out a financial audit every year.
During an audit, you want to gather all necessary financial documents. Make sure that there are no missing copies of invoices, bank statements or receipts, and then make sure that all these records are stored somewhere safe in an organised manner (nowadays this is typically done digitally).
A financial audit can be a time for identifying late payments you may have forgotten to chase up. You can also look at exactly how much you’re earning and spending and work out if there are any regular outgoing payments that are worth cancelling or reducing.
It can also be worth regularly carrying out marketing audits to measure the progress of your marketing. This could allow you to identify issues with your marketing so that you can make any necessary corrections.
A digital strategy audit could focus on aspects such as SEO, paid advertising and general brand consistency. When it comes to the likes of SEO, it could be worth taking steps such as checking for broken links, checking algorithm updates and checking competitor keywords.
After this audit, you can then make any alterations to your marketing strategy that are necessary. This could include everything from fixing brand inconsistencies to focusing on new keywords.
If you are an employer, a human resources audit could also be worth carrying out. This can be an opportunity to check that you’re providing for your employees in the best way possible – and that your employees are serving you in the best possible way.
What are some things to check during an HR audit? Start by looking at your employee performance. Are any employees failing to meet targets? Are others exceeding them? Such data can help you to work with employees that are struggling, while rewarding employees that are exceeding targets. It could even be a chance to reorganise your team and their roles.
You should then look at what you’re offering employees and whether you could improve this. Are other companies offering better wages or better benefit packages? Are certain benefits not being taken advantage of? This could be a chance to reassess your benefit package.
Don’t forget to also schedule one-on-one meetings with employees. This could be a chance to raise issues with them and get suggestions on things to improve to make your employees happier and more productive.
Every year, it can be worth inspecting your company’s use of tech to make sure that you’re using the right hardware and applications.
This is a great opportunity to get rid of old tech that is no longer serving you well and embrace new tech. Take the time to compare other hardware and software options out there and decide whether it’s worth migrating.
Try to identify common problems you may be having with your tech and use this as an opportunity to look for solutions. For example, if your company wi-fi is temperamental, it could be a time to look into a new internet service or wi-fi range extenders. Make sure to do your research when choosing new tech and take the time to train employees how to use this new tech.
It could also be worth carrying out security audits to check that your company is as secure as it can be. This involves checking for vulnerabilities that you can patch up.
Examples of things to look at in a digital security audit could include password strength, software security (is any software about to lose support?) and data backup (how many of your files are backed up?). A physical security audit could meanwhile look into things like visitor records and window/door security.
Once you’ve identified security vulnerabilities, you can take steps to patch up these vulnerabilities. Make sure to alert employees of any security updates and train them to carry out any new security protocol that you introduce.
Health and safety
A health and safety audit can help to identify any hazards within your business that could be worth guarding against.
This could include fire safety, slip/fall prevention, air quality, PPE usage and possibly driver safety (if you have drivers working for you). If you sell a product, you may also want to consider how your product can be made safer.
A health and safety audit could help to identify safety measures that you need to invest in such as new fire extinguishers, better guardrails or new PPE. You could also use the opportunity to develop new safety protocol that you can train to employees.
A compliance audit involves checking that you are complying with all recommended business laws and guidelines necessary to your company. This ensures that you cannot be fined or sued, as well as helping to possibly earn optional certificates or badges.
A compliance audit may be something that you can work into each of the above audits, rather than carrying out a separate audit for it (for example, data compliance checks could be incorporated into an IT or marketing audit, while employee law compliance checks can be incorporated into a HR audit). A commercial legal advisor may be able to help you identify areas of compliance to focus on.