Breaking Down Barriers to Increase the Use of Data Analytics – You Asked, We Answered
Earlier this year, the ACFE and CaseWare Analytics co-hosted a webinar called Failure to Launch: Breaking Down the Barriers to Increase the Use of Analytics, where Lenny Block, Associate Vice President, NASDAQ Internal Audit, talked about overcoming common pitfalls encountered when implementing data analytics. Lack of technical skills, limited experience or not knowing where to find the data—let alone incorporating the data into the audit—are common reasons cited for why some auditors don’t use data analysis tools such as CaseWare IDEA.
During the webinar, solutions to these challenges were discussed in depth, which led to a series of questions from attendees. Here are the answers to some of those questions:
Q: In your experience, are analytics tools increasingly becoming part of the internal audit department’s arsenal or are these being outsourced?
Lenny Block (LB): Analytics tools are becoming more standard within internal audit’s arsenal. Each member of our internal audit team is given a license if it’s applicable to their job function. That said, some internal audit shops may work with third parties to help them implement solutions, but complete outsourcing is not a good alternative.
Q: Some companies are now creating analytical packages, so haven’t auditors always had these capabilities via other tools?
LB: Analytics are not new. However, as some auditors have experienced, the challenge has been figuring out how to unlock the benefits of analytic tools. Traditional statistical software packages are not user friendly for business auditors. IDEA is like a combination of Excel and Access, and has numerous built-in audit functions. It also provides better data integrity and audit trails than other tools.
Q: We are in the process of using analytics, but IT staff is limited in their ability to provide data sources. IT looks to the business data owner for data, and business owners look to IT to know about the data. How do you address this issue?
LB: The audit staff should be able to go the business owner of the data and request access or work with one of their analysts to have it pulled for you. Most ERP and other applications have SQL access to the data. This should not be a problem in most organizations. Audit should be able to get the data they need to do their jobs.
Q: I am new at auditing. When looking at sources to determine whether they are viable, what are some key things to look for?
LB: Any data can be viable if you know what your audit objectives are. Some people think analytics are a magic wand, but actually they are more like a powerful extension of your experience and critical thinking skills. Ask, “What are our objectives? What do we want to do with the data? What are we trying to discover and prevent or learn to improve the business?” The answers to those questions will determine the data fields you care to analyze. With that information, you will be able to choose the tool that best suits your audit and organization goals.
Missed the webinar? Not a problem: here is a link where you can find the full recording of the presentation. If you have any questions about CaseWare IDEA or data analysis in general, send us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Bob Cuthbertson:
Bob Cuthbertson brings a wealth of accounting, auditing and technology experience to his role as Chief Operating Officer at CaseWare Analytics. Prior to starting the analytics division of CaseWare in 2000, initially as CaseWare IDEA Inc., Mr. Cuthbertson was Vice President, Professional Services, of The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA). Mr. Cuthbertson is also a CPA (Ontario) with a specialty in Information Technology (CITP), granted by AICPA, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queen’s University School of Business.
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