Unlocking the Value of Audit Analytics: Commitment to Staff Development

Leading a software company, I wish I could say that the right technology will address all the problems auditors face. But, as we have progressed through this series, I have reiterated that there are a number of experiences that come together to deliver success. None more important than the right people. Some readers may interpret this to be the right technical skills and others may say the experience. While those qualities are important I think the attitude, motivation, capacity for learning and the ability to understand process quickly trumps all others.


When you invest in technology for your audit department, you must have the right people to realize any value from it. 


In a recent interview, I was asked to discuss my opinion on what new subjects should be added to current post-grad curriculums to help aspiring auditors prepare for their careers. While I mentioned that a thorough understanding of data analytics is essential, I also pointed out and truly believe that critical thinking along with in-depth knowledge of business processes are the most important skills. Someone that asks the right questions during data analytics coupled with the skills to answer that question has the capacity to be a great auditor.


A need for new and emerging skillsets is nothing new, as shown in a recent survey published by the IIA, but how do you determine where critical thinking abilities lie within your department?


Top Skills Being Recruited or Built in the Internal Audit Function



Source: IIA, Pulse of the Profession, Enhancing Value through Collaboration


Critical thinking is how we use our intellect to arrive at an objective and rational viewpoint. It is not being predisposed to a negative assertion or finding faults.  Sound familiar? Today’s auditors should have the ability to analyze data they receive and mentally process it without bias, leading to more rational and meaningful results. 


The Commitment


Do not get me wrong here. I am not suggesting that you should have a department of only critical thinkers. However, they are an important component. As discussed in my previous blog on Visionary Leadership, it is up to you, the CAE, to invest in your team. What’s most important is positive attitudes and commitment.


There is a popular quote that has been passed around many times and it appeared on my LinkedIn feed today. It reads as follows:


The CFO asked: What if we invest in our people and they leave?

To which the CEO responded: What if we don’t and they stay?


Creating an impressive team requires an investment of both time and money. It is important to invest in training and education for your team as it is also important that the time is taken to help them develop an understanding of the businesses they audit. Furthermore, you will have to invest your own time and lead by example. Not just on your own development but in enrolling your team in the belief that this is important for the company and for their own careers.


While companies are cutting back on costs, look for cost-effective ways to improve skills. For example:


  • Webinars
  • Online training courses
  • Internal training courses (delivered by experts on your team)
  • Magazine articles and whitepapers
  • Blogs (like this one)


Ultimately, it will be up to the Chief Audit Executives as visionary leaders to align their department with the business objectives, build a foundation of best practices, assemble the right team and hone the power of analytics.


I hope you have enjoyed this series on unlocking the value from analytics and visionary audit departments. Stay tuned for my last installment, Results Focused Analytics.



About Andrew Simpson:

Andrew Simpson has close to two decades of experience in the information systems audit and security business; specifically data analytics, interrogation and forensics. He is a regular contributor to various auditing conferences and is acknowledged as an expert on continuous controls monitoring and revenue assurance.

Connect: @CW_Simpson          Andrew Simpson