3 Coronavirus Pandemic Recommendations for GRC Professionals: Cangemi Perspectives
Michael P. Cangemi, a former CAE, CFO & CEO, is a Senior Fellow and Advisory Board Member of the Rutgers Continuous Auditing and Reporting Lab.
By now everyone is aware that the coronavirus pandemic is changing the way we live and work. C-suite business managers are being challenged to cope with the fact a consumer-driven economy has been ordered to stay at home to curb the spread of the virus. One result of this has been a shift towards employees working remotely from their homes, with little chance to comprehensively test the technology infrastructure supporting such a shift.
There have been some issues, especially those related to the ongoing need to improve IT security in general, but remote work has generally been able to function, at least in some sectors. I was on a call recently with my Financial Executives International (FEI) colleagues and they reported that the first-quarter accounting close was accomplished entirely by remote accounting and finance staff and that it was essentially and surprisingly successful.
This speaks to the strength of our technology infrastructure. Together, the Web, Wi-Fi networks, remote data storage, and processing services have become the link that connects work, family, personal finance, and leisure. My associates also reported that, notwithstanding the current challenges, their companies are already evaluating how to continue to work remotely, add new automation capabilities, and slash costs — including the cost of office space.
I have been promoting advances in tech for business and audit process improvement my entire career and this is also the focus of my current advisory: This economic shutdown is rocketing us toward a much more technology-centric future. So what does this mean for GRC professionals? Here are three takeaways.
1. No one will be immune from disruption
Stay in step with the C-suite and understand we are in a recession (or a brutal recession, depending on the industry). Almost every firm will see at least a short-term reduction in revenue. Firms like retail have enacted large-scale furloughs and unemployment is at abnormal heights, especially in the US. While we do not know how long these uncertain times will last, we are being given a significant opportunity to plan for the expanded tech transformation.
Point is, we are being given a significant opportunity to plan for the expanded tech transformation. Right now, problems abound but so too does your opportunity to embrace and expand your technological capabilities, for the long run.
2. Turn adversity into opportunity and improvement
Although the demands of the day need to be addressed, we must consider how we can position ourselves to be more productive and efficient than before this began. Now is time to enhance the technology skills and develop new ones.
Accelerate plans to expand the use of technology in your practice. If your function has been in the study mode, use this time to ramp up plans for the use of expanded technology solutions. Address challenges that may require more technical expertise and seek out advice from software vendors.
Consider and recommend what technology infrastructure changes may be needed, such as additional bandwidth and security measures to work remotely. More efficient audit approaches including remote monitoring and reporting using AI and cloud solution should be expanded.
3. Embrace the remote reality
The C-suite is looking for guidance on issues related to the expanding levels of remote working. Automated audit and GRC software tools already fit the remote model. I expect there will be an expanded focus on processes to monitor employee’s remote activity and productivity to ensure a fair and honest workday.
The successful expansion of working remotely combined with a heightened fear of new medical risks will, I believe, lead to a more permanent expansion of remote work. I also believe there will be an expansion of deployed technology in general for business process improvement. Teamwork and collaboration will occur across many different boundaries, whether geographic, cultural, or generational, and this will be a major theme post-coronavirus.
We all like routine, for it is comfortable and change can bring despair. But change also opens us up to new ways and new hopes. Now is the time for high-imagination, low-cost innovations for audit process improvements. One positive long-lasting benefit of the crisis will be a validation of the benefits of technology and plans for adding technology solutions.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.
About Michael P. Cangemi: Michael P. Cangemi is a senior fellow at Rutgers University and serves on the Rutgers Continuous Auditing and Reporting Lab Advisory Board. A former CFO and CEO, a prolific writer, active speaker and senior advisor to various companies, Mr. Cangemi now focuses on providing continuous auditing, continuous monitoring and analytics intelligence for GRC, Finance and Business Process Improvements. He serves on FEI’s Committee on Finance & Technology (CFIT) and their GRC Sub Committee; the EDPACS Editorial Advisory Board; and the Lukka Audit Advisory Board focused on auditing blockchain. His book Managing the Audit Function 3rd Edition was published by Wiley and has been translated into Chinese and Serbian.
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