For many businesses, the internal audit function is essential to identify fraud, improve process and control-monitoring, and promote policy compliance.
As a global organization serving clients in more than 120 countries, we faced a large, complex challenge in carrying out this function on a daily basis.
Traditionally, internal audit focuses testing on a sample basis—gaining insight from data in individual transaction systems—to perform its work.
In recent years, however, advances in digital solutions that encompass company-wide data analytics are transforming this domain. Today, leading organizations are embracing analytics and continuous auditing tools to significantly enhance their internal auditing activities and digital capabilities.
We’ve generated efficiencies, identified savings and reduced risks. These benefits can be achieved by automating results and continually following up on process improvements and data anomalies—leapfrogging current techniques.
The Internal Audit organization launched an initiative in collaboration with Accenture’s internal IT organization to implement a Continuous Auditing and Analytics capability. We assembled a global team of business and IT resources. The project was structured along traditional design, build and run lines, with the IT core team carefully orchestrating an extended global group and resources in our various Integration Factories.
The six-month initiative focused on enabling a number of new capabilities, including:
Automation of monitoring activity, supported by regular analytics to identify risks on an ongoing basis.
Increased audit coverage and assurance, by auditing a full data population and analyzing data patterns across multiple transaction systems.
Enhanced business operations and controls, allowing Internal Audit and business areas to monitor continuously for policy violations, errors, or adverse trends, thereby identifying cost-savings opportunities for the business.
Another key activity was the creation of a direct link to our single, global SAP instance, enabling the solution to draw from a worldwide, homogenized source of data.
Additional interfaces were developed with other critical applications and systems, such as Time & Expense and Procurement, to enable the remainder of the necessary analytics.
The new approach enabled us to transform our internal-auditing capability by significantly automating processes, supporting compliance with existing company policies and providing the ability to flag potentially fraudulent transactions in a much more timely manner.
Since implementation, the Continuous Audit and Analytics solution demonstrated its effectiveness by:
Increasing process efficiency.
Identifying exceptions more effectively.
Reducing by more than 80 percent the time spent by audit analysts gathering and cleansing data; enabling them to focus on the analysis and creation of new analytics.