Tax & AccountingFinanceComplianceSeptember 13, 2018

A successful analytics program is more than just software

Six months ago, you bought your audit analytics software and had it installed so everyone can access it. Yet a look at the audits coming in since that time, you haven’t seen a noticeable change in the use of analytics in the audits. What could be wrong? You were very clear in the department meeting that you wanted everyone using the software. Are your auditors just being defiant?

We’ve found that just buying software and telling everyone “Now use it” just isn’t enough. TeamMate Analytics is intended to be used by everyone in the department, not just one person with special programming, DBA, and data analysis skills. Although managers understand the benefits of having everyone on the team performing analytics, some are stymied as to how to realize those benefits. Audit management needs to understand that they are introducing change to the team, many of whom have been conditioned to fear the term “analytics.” As such, appropriate change management measures need to be taken.

There are several things we’ve seen our most successful customers do as a part of implementing TeamMate Analytics. The first is getting buy-in from the top. This doesn’t just mean a willingness to spend money, but also to change processes and procedures that may have been around for a long time.

Appropriate training is also key. Auditors leave TeamMate Analytics training seeing that it really isn't difficult to use the tools in TeamMate Analytics and they learn how to think about when to use analytics. Consider things like audit objectives, business area processes, procedures, controls, and using the TeamMate Analytics Test Library and other sources for ideas.

In addition to providing the software and training, audit management needs to provide the team with a vision of how they see analytics providing value to their work, as well as a plan that shows how the vision will be accomplished. Audit management either needs to act as the Analytics Lead or appoint someone. This individual needs to understand the vision and have the skills and authority to move the team down a path of executing the plan to achieve the vision.

Champions also need to be identified to the team. These are auditors that have a natural affinity for audit analytics and are there to help others. These individuals do not do the work for other auditors but make suggestions about what to test for or ways to perform tests.

Determining the analytics needed on an audit must be intentionally added to the planning process and initially may need to be made a “mandatory” part of every audit. Champions can play a key role during planning helping the other auditors think about how to determine what kinds of analytics would be beneficial to the audit. The Champion can also help ensure the team takes into consideration where to get the data to perform the analytics.

Initially, the analytics should be focused on quick wins. Analytics that can be achieved by auditors that are new to analytics are better than no analytics at all. As the team matures in its thinking about analytics, they can become more robust as the team moves down the path toward the longer-term vision.

Finally, sharing ideas and successes with the team can be extremely beneficial and motivating for the audit team. Not only can auditors learn from each other but can see that they are making progress.

To summarize:

  • Get buy-in from the top
  • Provide appropriate training
  • Set a vision and plan for success
  • Establish a lead
  • Identify champions
  • Plan to identify analytics opportunities for all audits
  • Identify quick wins
  • Share experiences and learnings

Achieving the analytics vision is about more than just buying software, but these are not challenging to implement. The teams that do these things not only see results in terms of higher audit quality and reduced risk, but they report auditors having increased job satisfaction. Auditors gain a better understanding of the area they are auditing, can see the added value that it brings to the audit, and learn valuable skills.

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Ken Petersen
Associate Director, Product Management
Ken has over 25 years of experience in developing and implementing systems and working with data in a variety of capacities while working for both Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial software development companies. Since 2002 Ken’s focus has been on the Governance, Risk, and Compliance space helping numerous customers across multiple industries implement software solutions to satisfy various compliance needs including audit and SOX.