ISACA Report: Barriers and Enablers to Auditors Accepting GAS

Despite the clear benefits of using a data analytics tool in audits, many auditors have still not embraced the technology. For a recent report titled, ‘Barriers and Enablers to Auditors Accepting Generalized Audit Software’, ISACA surveyed almost 300 auditors who use generalized audit software (GAS) to identify what factors inform auditors’ decisions to use—or avoid—the software. Here are some highlights from the report.


As noted in the report, it’s important to study the barriers preventing people from adopting a technology solution as much the factors that promote its use.


Characteristics of those surveyed

Within the group of 277 auditors surveyed, most had more than five years’ experience in audit and had been using GAS for more than two years. Most surveyed indicated they worked in public accounting (29%), banking and finance (17%) and government and nonprofit (16%). Financial auditors were most common in the group (44%), followed by IT auditors (32%) and operational auditors (24%), with 60% identifying as internal auditors and 40% as external. The most cited GAS software used by auditors was CaseWare IDEA Data Analysis software, with an overwhelming 66% indicating this as their tool of choice. Runners up included ActiveData for Excel and MS Tools.


Uses for GAS

For the survey, auditors were asked to rank on a scale from “strongly disagree = 1” to “strongly agree = 7” whether they use GAS to perform certain applications. It was found that most auditors use GAS for audit sampling, data mining, substantive testing and detecting fraud. The least used applications included regression analysis and calculating ratios.


Barriers to use

While the auditors surveyed strongly agreed that GAS improves the quality of their work, their job performance and makes it easier to do their jobs, reasons stated for why others might feel differently about using a tool is that they think the software is difficult to use, they are unaware of the full functionality of the software, or system problems discourage use. When system response times are slow, a person’s perception of the system as a whole can be changed because it typically indicates that something is wrong. Common issues that are considered indicative of system problems are challenges extracting data, lack of system documentation, and the GAS not working as expected.


Other barriers mentioned included perceived threats to an auditor’s control over their work or their ability to perform audit procedures, which could encourage employees not to adopt the technology. In addition, the survey broke auditors into their two distinct groups—internal and external—to determine if there are differences in their perceptions of GAS. It was found that there is, in fact, a difference, with internal auditors perceiving GAS as more of a threat than external auditors. One respondent noted that, “Internal auditors are generally more resistant as they do not see how it applies to operations, but consider it more relevant for financial calculations,” while another stated that, “From an IT auditor’s perspective, this is the biggest hurdle in getting data analysis started on a regular basis in an internal audit function.”


How to overcome

When adopting GAS, the report indicates the importance of management providing education, training and increasing communication. Potential users must be educated to fully understand why they should use the tool. Following this comes training, which clearly demonstrates how to use the technology and maximize its benefits. Management must also make their buy-in for the tool known in order to improve perceptions, and employees need to be approached for feedback, questions and concerns around the technology to increase their comfort with the tool.


Breaking down the barriers

Breaking through the barriers preventing an organization from adopting a GAS tool can be challenging. If you’re interested in getting more tips and information on overcoming these issues, watch our webinar, ‘Failure to launch: Breaking down the barriers to increase use of data analytics’ now.


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.

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