Why code audits are essential for every software project

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When I was in the second grade, my mom would always look over my homework essays after I finished writing them. As I recall, she’d alter some of my sentences and rephrase a few things to make it sound better.

Back then, I didn’t think I needed anyone to make changes to my essays. In fact, I despised the entire process because, at the time, I was very happy with what I had written. In my second grade mind, I had done a great job. Obviously, that opinion was very subjective.

Most of you probably experienced something similar when you were young. Whether it was your mom, dad or a teacher, someone was auditing the essays you’d written for school. Now that we’re all adults working in the tech world, this same idea can be applied to writing and auditing code.

Code audits are important

Audit /ˈɔːdɪt/ (noun) a systematic review or assessment of something

Writing code is part of our daily routine. Of course, we always take pride in the quality of the code we write for each client’s project. Even so, regular code audits are an extremely important part of the process. These audits ensure that the codebase is solid and maintainable in the long run.

While I didn’t like my mom’s editing process at the time, I always earned higher grades on my homework essays after she had reviewed and improved my work. But getting a better grade wasn’t the point of my mom’s “audits.” She wanted to help me sharpen my writing skills and enhance my “sentence compounding” powers so I would do better next time.

In the same way, it’s always wise to have a second pair of eyes look over your code work. Not only does it a code audit give you confidence that everything is accurate; but in some cases, it can actually reveal some errors or things you overlooked.

When programming, troublesome code can lead to technical debt in the long run. This is a problem we covered in an earlier article. A code audit is one of the smartest ways to steer clear of this problem.

Do I really need an audit?

In every single case, the answer is a resounding yes! In fact, if you are reading this blog post, it’s probably because deep-down you think you may need a code audit on a project you’re working on right now.

Here are three signs that you need a code audit:

  1. Your product is outdated or obsolete (aka old)
  2. You’ve noticed some performance issues
  3. You know that something is not right, but you don’t know what

Okay, let’s say these three issues don’t apply to your project. So, you’re in the clear, right? Not so fast. Even if you said no to all three of these signs, you are still in need a code audit. Whether you have a product that is already functional and live or you are in the process of making a product market ready, a code audit is always essential.

If something has gone wrong at any point with your product, the code audit is the most effective way to get to the root of the problem. At Infinum, we have learned how to put together the most useful, straightforward and valuable reports to get to the bottom of the issue and correct it.

The power of the code audit

So, here’s the million dollar question, the one you’re probably asking yourself at this very moment: what do I actually gain from a code audit?

A code audit can provide countless benefits. For our clients, an audit can often help them meet time-to-market deadlines, preserve their budget, or optimize the work required and the product itself. In the long-term, it minimizes additional efforts to maintain the product.

The information the code audit can provide is also extremely valuable. Here are just a few of the issues you can pinpoint during a code audit:

Security issues: If your product is related to the finance industry or involves sensitive user data, it’s extremely important to know how vulnerable it is to outside threats.

Bad architecture: No matter what your product is, if it was built upon shaky ground, it will not be maintainable and scalable in the long run.

Inconsistent code style: By the rule of thumb, consistent code is reliable code. If you ever want someone else to take over the ownership of the code, it must be consistent in style.

Depending on the type and features of the product, certain issues may seem more or less important. However, in general, high-quality code always saves time and money. What’s the most effective way to ensure code is top-quality? You guessed it: a code audit.

How it works

So, how do we handle a code audit? For us, it usually takes 5-8 working days to conduct a review on one codebase (platform), and put together a written report. This report is a deliverable, and in most scenarios (when reviewing the code) it consists of the following segments:

  • Definition of used libraries
  • Code architecture evaluation
  • Security issues
  • Critical bugs
  • Software performance and bottlenecks
  • Bad practices and code style issues
  • Errors that can potentially occur
  • Conclusion and recommendations on improvements

These segments are not always a given, but they are the most common. Every project has its own unique outline, and we take the most useful information from each distinctive report.

We then evaluate each of these segments separately and rate them on a scale from 1 to 5. Ultimately, we rate the overall condition of the project in the same way, combining all the evaluated segments.

What happens next?

So, what happens after the code audit? It all depends on the results of the code audit report. In fact, the outcomes for each product are entirely different and it depends solely on the client’s business decision. Once we reach this point, we usually ask our clients the following questions:

  • What do you want to achieve with your product?
  • Are you happy with the results, conversions or KPIs?
  • What stands in the way of achieving those results?
  • Do you receive complaints about the user experience?
  • Are you afraid the product is not keeping up with technical standards and performance?
  • Are you spending too much time and money just trying to make it work?

These are just a few of the points each client can address with their team. Our job is to help you find those issues through the audit while the client’s job is to decide which issues to address.

Honesty pays off

Either way, we are always fully transparent when it comes to offering a code audit evaluation. In many cases, we offer to help our clients improve the product so they can achieve their short and long-term goals. On the other hand, in some extreme cases, we may suggest to ditch the current code altogether and start over from scratch. It’s always better to be honest than polite. In the end, it saves you time and money.

Each of our software development teams (iOS, Android, Web) include around 30 or more engineers, meaning we have a valuable collection of knowledge and experience; all concentrated in one place. Our goal is to tap into this expertise to provide value and create the product you envisioned from the start.

Do you need a code audit? Let us know.

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