Think Fast
ComplianceFinanceTax & AccountingJune 03, 2021

Think Fast: How Audit is Quickly Evolving

Internal Audit, compliance, and risk management are evolving at what seems to be a faster rate than ever before. Agile audit, data analytics, risk and control frameworks are just a few examples of the evolution.

As a Chief Auditor before the inception of SOX 404, my department was lean.  We concentrated on operational auditing and maintained a low profile in the organization. After May 2002, a completely different world took shape! I took my department global, and we were then wearing three different hats (Operational Auditor, SOX Auditor, and Risk Manager). We had more than 35+ auditors (internal and contract) traveling the globe at its height, and we were no longer keeping a low profile. Speed was the name of the game, as it directly translated to cost and the bottom line. Although our services were required, being fast and efficient was how we added value. That mindset is why we have evolved faster than ever before,and it is now taking hold in the SaaS industry.

With the push toward the speed of delivery, many audit departments realize that automation is key. The days of depending on Microsoft Office and Microsoft Access databases have passed, and an automation tool is what makes the most sense to today’s Chief Auditors. It is no longer just the “big” internal audit shops spending their budgets on automation. We are now seeing departments as small as one resource utilizing audit management tools. The challenge for these smaller departments is the ability to implement a tool seamlessly and efficiently into their processes with speed and precision. Smaller departments generally lack the resources to have a project manager and a configuration validator, so they depend on their auditors to perform these implementation tasks alongside their day-to-day tasks. When a shop of 10 or fewer resources invests in an audit management tool, they will need to choose a provider to stand them up as quickly and efficiently as possible.

There is a better way! As the profession evolves, it has become increasingly clear to TeamMate that there is substantial demand for a tool that can be "up and running” in days or weeks instead of months.

A standard implementation starts with a blank slate. Substantial effort is needed from the audit team to gather requirements, configure the system, train the champions, validate the configuration,and finally ,train all of the end users. This process is typically measured in months. Depending on the department’s size, it could be three to six months before “go-live.”

Conversely, TeamMate has developed adoption that has “best practices” baked in. Our FastPath model can be delivered in less than one week with our onsite model and less than two weeks with our virtual delivery model. Instead of starting from a blank canvas where your requirements are studied in detail, we use our vast Software as a Service (SaaS) experience to deliver a starting point that puts you more than half-way to the finish line.

For example, instead of figuring out what your risks and controls will look like in the solution, you can concentrate on loading your RCM into TeamMate. This is made possible by having the risk and control attributes (such as control frequency, method, type, risk ratings, and financial assertions) preloaded with this option.

Using best practices as a starting point (a few customer-specific tasks will still need to be configured), our FastPath model allows us to concentrate on training champions to update the model, as required, instead of spending days configuring the system. Given that we get through the initial setup and champion training at an accelerated pace, we can then concentrate on training end users.

It has been our experience that an overwhelming majority of the out-of-the-box settings are accepted as is. However, the model provides champions with the skillset to adjust the configuration as needed. In the end, your audit department will not only be able to purchase a budget-conscious model but, in less than two weeks, you will be performing audit work in a live production environment.

When you start vetting audit management software providers, be sure to understand the delivery model as much as the price. Some questions to consider are: How long will this affect my day job? How long will it take to go live? Does the software support my audit life cycle? Is the solution flexible enough to adjust to my needs? In the end, if you “think fast",  you’ll see that the FastPath approach, combined with the TeamMate+ software, is the tool you need to get your team up and running in no time!

Curt Barnhill
Senior Consultant
Curt Barnhill is a Professional Services Consultant with Wolters Kluwer TeamMate. As a seasoned Internal Audit & SOX Expert with over 25 years of experience, he began his career with KPMG’s Long Island assurance team and was then part of PWC’s NYC Internal Audit Services practice.