Tip of the Month: BarnOwl’s Latest Release, Always Listening to Our Clients

January 31, 2022

Did You Know?

BarnOwl version 10.5.1 has been released. Being a local product, we pride ourselves in listening to our clients and being able to enhance the software to meet our clients’ needs. Version 10.5.1 introduces additional functionality for our clients (What’s new in BarnOwl document). In addition, from version 10.0.0 (first released September 2019) onwards, our clients are able to self-upgrade easily without any assistance from our technical team.
BarnOwl has been going strong for over 20 years and is getting better and better all the time.
Development of BarnOwl started in 2001 as a joint project between Deloitte South Africa, Nedbank and IDI Technology Solutions, making BarnOwl one of the earliest software solutions on the market to take advantage of integrated risk, compliance and audit including the latest thought leadership in risk and control based auditing.
BarnOwl was designed from inception to incorporate leading enterprise risk management, compliance and audit thinking whilst retaining sufficient flexibility to allow organisations to adopt their own methodologies.
BarnOwl has come a very long way in the past 20 years and is now a very mature product with a vast array of functionality and built-in flexibility allowing users to work the way they want to work.

Building, enhancing and supporting great software

There are many aspects and challenges when developing great software which is built to last including:

  • A well-designed database providing a solid base for future development and seamless integration of additional modules, sub modules and functionality with no bolt-ons.
  • KISS (keep it simple stupid). This is easier said than done and making complex systems seem simple, is no trivial task.
  • Flexible, configurable / parameter driven. However, with flexibility comes complexity so the challenge is to make the system easy to use for the user.
  • Flexible reporting ability enabling the user to get what he / she wants out of the system in the desired format such as tabular type reports, business intelligence drill down dashboards, data extracts etc.
  • Continued enhancement of the software and keeping up with the ever evolving standards / frameworks (in this case ISO31000, COSO and IPPF (International Professional Practice Framework)) and market requirements.
  • Keeping up with new technology and ensuring that the software continues to work on the latest platforms (e.g. Windows Server 2022, SQL 2019, .NET framework 4.8, firewalls, browsers, cloud etc.)
  • Self-upgrading and stable ensuring that the software can easily be upgraded to newer versions across hundreds of client environments without any loss of data, loss of client-specific configuration settings, loss of client-specific custom fields, degradation of system performance etc. In addition, making it possible for clients to self-upgrade easily, taking into account the hundreds of environmental permutations (such as firewalls, platforms, multi-version upgrading, UAT, production etc.)

In addition, great software needs to be:

  • Maintained, supported and enhanced by highly skilled software development engineers. (i.e. no spaghetti code) following best practice database and software development methodologies. The product manager and development team also needs to keep up with the latest technology and development techniques, platforms and tools.
  • Implemented by highly competent consultants who not only know how the software works but also know the business requirements (in this case GRC and Audit) and are able to configure the software to meet client specific needs and methodologies.
  • Supported by highly skilled help desk personnel who not only know the software in-depth and how it is implemented for a specific client but also have a deep understanding of the various operating platforms with their complexities and nuances.
  • Well documented with up-to-date online help, facilitating self-service.
  • Keep abreast of the latest global GRC thinking as well as thought leadership.

The BarnOwl roadmap

IDI constantly strives to enhance and improve the BarnOwl suite of products. Each time a new version of BarnOwl is released, it contains not only the latest new features, but also performance enhancements and fixes.
The BarnOwl software:
The What’s new in BarnOwl document on the BarnOwl website includes a summary of the enhancements and changes made in each version of BarnOwl, spanning from version to 7.7.0 (February 2016) to the latest version 10.5.1 (November 2021). The latest version of BarnOwl (10.5.0 and 10.5.1) delivers some exciting enhancements such as:

The operating and database platform:
In addition, we publish the latest operating and database platforms supported.
Please note that from BarnOwl version 11 (mid 2022), version 4.8 (and above) of the .NET framework will be a minimum requirement.
Sneak preview of what’s coming:
Major improvements continue to be made to BarnOwl’s reporting capability via the BarnOwl business intelligence module and SSRS reporting. Standard Power BI dashboards and SSRS tabular type reports are available which can be customised (at a cost) to meet client specific requirements. The enhancement of BarnOwl’s reporting capability remains one of the key focus areas for future versions.
Version 11, planned for later this year, will deliver a totally revamped BarnOwl Lite web interface promising ease of use and significantly more functionality.

The BarnOwl upgrade process

The upgrade process (from version 10 onwards) is fully automated with a wizard-driven approach enabling our clients to upgrade BarnOwl themselves. This also gives our clients autonomy in terms of change management (i.e. communicating the impact of the new version to their users (what’s new in BarnOwl document), booking BarnOwl training on the latest version if required, scheduling the upgrade per environment (UAT and / or Production) at a time that suits you and fits in with your IT processes.
When a new version of BarnOwl is released, details are published on the BarnOwl website. If you have requested a feature enhancement which is included in the new release, you will receive an e-mail informing you of the new release. In addition, e-mails are sent to all our clients (BarnOwl champions) informing them of new releases.

In summary

BarnOwl continue to be thought leaders in enterprise risk management, compliance (GRC) & audit and maintain a close relationship with clients, professional bodies, risk advisory and audit practices to ensure that the BarnOwl software is enhanced to support current best practice and remains aligned to the latest industry standards and frameworks.

Useful links


About BarnOwl:

BarnOwl is a fully integrated governance, risk management, compliance and audit software solution used by close to 200 organisations in Africa, Australasia and the UK. BarnOwl is a locally developed software solution and is the preferred risk management solution for the South African public sector supporting the National Treasury risk framework.
Please see www.barnowl.co.za for more information.