Looking for an Audit management tool at low cost?

When looking for a GRC software, how much would price affect your decision? Would you try a free open source, but reduced feature software?

An interesting comment on the Norman Marks blog asks why you would stick to a fixed set of features rather than look for “á la carte” GRC software. At what “point” would you choose product that covers a fixed feature set over a pick-and-choose approach to software or visa versa?

The GRC Envelop is a risk and audit management tool that is web – based and has risk and audit work flows. To answer the price issue, GRC Envelop tool is available in 2 licences: an open source licence and an enterprise licence. The open source licence is referred to as the community version. The enterprise licence is refer to as the enterprise version. The enterprise version has commercial support and many additional features to help with risk and audits. Please take a look at the feature list to decide which one is better for you.

GRC Envelop tries to blend the price and feature set issue by the classic software design of breaking the tool into modules. For example, the risk management module that can be swapped for another risk management tool, using APIs provided.

Audit and risk management tools are quite common in the enterprise, and they help structure the audit work flow, maintain a common repository of audit/risk related information (such as objectives, risks, controls, and tests) and manage the people around the audit/risk activities. Assuming we look at audit management for now, there are four basic areas for every audit management tool should have:

  1. Creating audits – Title, description, start and end dates are of some of the features that are available while creating an audit. You can also attached work papers to an Audit. While creating an audit, you can create the processes, the objectives, the risks, the controls and the tests. At each of these levels you can attach work papers too.
  2. Managing and executing audits – to manage or execute an Audit, the GRC Envelop tool provides a separate workflow to ensure that auditors can only enter test results and test descriptions. While executing the audit you can create findings and actions. The ability to make control and test assessment is only available in the enterprise version.
  3. Report generation – the main use of this tool is to provide easy report generation at the end of an auditing exercise. report generation template can be modified according to your needs. The community version has only one default report generation template. The enterprise version has the ability to have multiple templates.
  4. User management – Restricting users to their areas is an important task for a tool. The community version has only one user type ( auditor) whereas the enterprise version has 6 user types (Audit manager, auditor, external viewer, internal business user, repository manager and risk manager)

The GRC Envelop provides all these basic areas. Paid support is also available for the community version. The community version has to be downloaded and installed on your machine or server. The enterprise version can be run on your servers or hosted on a public server. Please take a look at the feature list to understand which version will be most suitable for your use. Here are a few questions that we’d like to pose:

  1. Do you think there are other basic areas that was missed out?
  2. How would you define if a audit tool is easy or complex to use (steep learning curve)? The time it takes to learn a tool is one aspect, what else affects complexity?

Let us know in the comments below.

Information trends as a measure of Media maturity

Media maturity would be a measure of how comfortable a society feels with interacting with a particular medium as an information source and as channel to express themselves. Have you ever thought about where you are reading this article? Whether its on printed material or electronic media. If on printed, whether it is in an early morning edition, midday edition, or a weekly magazine.

Similarly on an electronic media, whether it is from a technology site, a blog or emailed newsletter. Why is media maturity important? Well if you are from the marketing profession then you’ll need to know what sort of media delivers to the kind of audience you are looking for. However understanding media maturity for everyone else, does not have a straight forward justification.

One overarching reason: When you interact with media that is not mature your opinions derived may tend to become skewed.Unfortunately there are no clean and simple methods of measuring media maturity. My recommendation would be to triangulate the results of a few different methods .

One method is to find out what the consumers of a particular media are actively seeking through that media. On Printed media look out for the classifieds or types of advertisements, while on electronic media look at search results or key words responses.

A simple result to show you how media maturity differs based on geographic location. A knee jerk interpretation would show that people in India have a higher sexual appetite (yes, we do have a large population but is not a well grounded reason), which is not true. In my opinion this difference shown in the images are based on the fact that electronic media is not mature in India.

I’m sure that those of you who have made this far with my reasoning would have numerous other factors that play into electronic media being not so popular in India.An apt question at this point would be to ask whether other media such as newspaper or television have higher incidence of carnal content at their early stages?

Using media technology as a focal point for discussion, how does media maturity affect media technology. The rather obvious affect for media maturity is the network effect, i.e. a more mature media would entice more people to use that particular media and in turn, the more people that use a particular media, the more is the usefulness of that particular media is to a single person. In other words particular media would more successful (read mature) if it has access to more people, i.e. “touching more people”. Lets take an example of the cell phone. If the cell phone media is not mature then there would be less cell phone users because they would feel that the information they receive through the cell phone is not sufficient or appropriate.

This would stagnate the growth of this media and in turn would reduce the number of people who put ads or write (content generators) and hence reduce the people who read or see these ads (content consumers).Keep in mind this does not affect you calling your friends or family through the cell phone.I guess I should have started this article by saying, “where should phone companies (any media company) look towards when moving up the valuing chain of handling information”

So, is measuring media maturity just about getting the information to a consumer? What about end consumers creating content? Isn’t the whole idea about Web 2.0 for ordinary people being able to share their content to the public? Could we use this as a measure of media maturity?

The second measure for media maturity: The more easy it is to share content on a particular media to the general public the more mature that media is. Would you say that the mobile phones are a mature media in this respect?
The last measure of media maturity that I’d like mention is mass customisation. Though this is debatable, the ability of newer media to customise messages or content more cost efficiently leads to more consumer engagement. So as compared to a regular newspaper article, if this article appeared in your email or mobile phone and started with “Dear Mr , I think this article may interest you because of your interest in IT and media.” I’m sure you will read the article with more interest.

Though mass customisation is based on need for more precision for content generators, it does provide a window into the different types of information that is possible for a particular media to handle.

So what do you take away from this small article? Mine would be: try to look at what others around me (society) are trying to get out of a particular media. If there is a wide variety of information ‘seeking trends’ then the media is a mature one.I eagerly look forward to your interpretations of what media maturity means to you.