Farm Credit Canada Challenges its Audit Processes to Gain Greater Efficiencies with TeamMate+
Established in 1959, Farm Credit Canada (FCC) is Canada’s largest agricultural term lender, providing financial services to farming operations, as well as to primary producers, agri-food operations and agribusinesses that support the agriculture industry. With 98 offices across rural Canada and 1,800 employees, FCC has continued to adapt and evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of the agriculture market, resulting in 25 years of consecutive portfolio growth.
And, for over 20 years, FCC has been a Wolters Kluwer TeamMate customer. FCC was the first company in Canada to implement TeamMate when they purchased the audit management system in 1996. FCC was also the first in the country to use TeamCloud hosting services, which helped them eliminate the burden of deploying and maintaining audit software upgrades or the associated infrastructure on their own.
In 2017, FCC’s Internal Audit Manager, Ron Vanasse, attended the TeamMate User Forum in San Diego. The User Forum is an annual event that offers internal auditors from a variety of industries the opportunity to collaborate and share best practices that help move the profession forward. In addition to networking, presentations and live demonstrations, the User Forum gives attendees hands-on experience with TeamMate solutions and allows them to connect with TeamMate experts.
It was at this User Forum where Vanasse was first introduced to TeamMate+, Wolters Kluwer’s fully configurable, web-based audit and assurance management expert solution. Vanasse returned home from the User Forum and immediately pitched TeamMate+ to management. FCC decided to move forward with the implementation—this time employing a more deliberate approach that addressed the people, processes and technology involved.
“We took a step back and realized that transitioning to TeamMate+ gave us the opportunity to re- examine our workflows and rewrite our entire audit taxonomy to help us achieve the greatest gains,” said Vanasse. “We knew that if we used TeamMate+ with our old methodology, we’d lose many of the efficiencies that TeamMate+ provides because we didn’t take the time to explore what the audit system really can do. So, we started with a clean slate and examined every phase of our audit process, adjusting as we went along.”
From April 2018 to March 2019, FCC’s internal audit team spent time identifying their needs, revising processes and looking at where connectivity would bring efficiency. FCC’s 20-person internal audit department has various managers, each responsible for a different audit area (IT, functional audit, fraud and lending). It was important for them to develop standards that would work for each unique audit area, while still providing a consistent methodology to build from.
The time was well spent, and as a result, FCC gained greater efficiencies in the areas of reporting, workflow management and communication. For example, using the capacity planning functionality helps ensure they are reaching their departmental goal of having internal auditors spend 75% of their time on audit projects. In addition, communication with auditees has moved from a more time consuming, manual process to sending a hyperlink via email so auditees can provide responses to audit reports or recommendations. In addition, TeamMate+ provides a consistent format for FCC to accumulate internal audit intelligence with the goal of building a complete set of risk and controls for their process classification framework.
Vanasse says taking the time to explore the audit solution’s functionality saved a lot of headaches in the end.