Auditor Spotlight: Robert Berry

The University of South Alabama is a medical college with more than 16,000 students and it is here where we recently spoke with the college’s Executive Director of Internal Audit, Robert Berry, to discuss his journey with data analytics. This is a snapshot of our conversation.

Q: How did you get started with data analytics?


A: Early in my career I was responsible for doing financial analysis for about a hundred retail stores, and I was using a spreadsheet program. I gathered the data I needed, and before I analyzed it I asked myself, “If I was the store manager, what would I want to see?”


So I analyzed the data manually and gave them what I thought they wanted. Next thing I knew they started requesting that I add more information to their statements. That’s how it all started: being curious and trying to find answers to critical business questions.


I then moved to another organization, ditched the spreadsheets and migrated to a product that required a lot of SQL scripting. I taught myself just enough to be dangerous—which means I made a lot of mistakes. It was frustrating because I didn’t have enough time to truly learn SQL.


I had an intern that was using IDEA in one of their classes, so we tried the educational version. We were in awe. We could point and click, then run simple queries right out of the box. No more complicated SQL. I’ve been hooked ever since.


Q: During which phase of the audit do you use your data analytics tool?


A: Data analysis can be done during any phase of the audit. At each phase you have to think about what your objective is and if the data is available. I would use data analytics during the planning phase as much as possible because it gives you the opportunity to get to know the area and formulate better questions before you get into the audit.


During the fieldwork phase, data analysis on an entire population leads to more accurate test results. Reports summarizing data analysis results provide greater fact-based audit findings. I tell people to always get the data because it tells a compelling story that no one can deny.


Q: How can auditors get management buy-in for data analytics?


A: My approach is to get the company as a whole to buy into the concept. It all boils down to three basic questions that I ask the leadership team: 1) Are you comfortable with all of the decisions you’ve made? 2) Do you believe you had the best information available to you prior to making those decisions? 3) When things go well or wrong, are you logically able to explain why?


If management can’t answer yes to these questions, then they need to be using data to help them make healthier decisions. Data analytics is the key to moving us from irrational decision-making to strategic decision-making based on the results of a logical analysis.


To learn more about how other auditors are using IDEA to improve their audits, check us out on SlideShare, where you can find more Auditor Spotlights and a variety of information and tips for using IDEA.






About Anu Sood:

Anu Sood is the Director of Product and Corporate Marketing at CaseWare Analytics and is responsible for the company’s global marketing strategy. Prior to CaseWare Analytics, Anu worked in various roles in the high-tech industry and her accomplishments range from writing software for telephone switches to launching a new global satellite communication service. Anu has extensive experience in strategic marketing, corporate communications, demand generation, content marketing, product management, product marketing and technology development.