Does your team need more firepower to audit analytics?

Do you have the technical knowledge to conduct an audit of an analytic dashboard?  If not, you should go get it as soon as possible.  As of February 2017, all the most used audit standards allow us to bring specialists into our audit teams to train and enhance our capabilities.  If your team finds itself in need of some technical knowledge, find an expert and learn from them!

Standard: Yellow Book (Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards)

Summary: Yellow Book audit standards are general standards that apply to financial, performance, and attestation agreements for both internal and external audits.  Yellow Book allows audit managers to staff their teams with “specialists” during planning to enhance the collective knowledge of the team.  Did you know that the Yellow Book even credits two specialists as members of their own team for writing those veru standards (Page 220)?

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Audit Standards and Data Analytics?

While giving a presentation on Analytics during a recent event, one of the meeting participants asked how the Audit industry felt about data products created using Analytic processes.  On first thought, I consider Analytics to be a form of “analytical procedures”.  This was my response but I had to qualify it by acknowledging that I wasn’t sure how different auditing standards addressed the topic.  Over the last few days I’ve been able to do some research and pull together a quick synopsis of how the most commonly used Audit standards define the work behind Analytics.  In summary my initial impression was pretty close… several of major Audit standards define this type of work and emphasize the reliability of data that underpin Analytic data products.

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Journal of Accountancy on Analytics

While trying to get this blog to appear higher in internet searches, I ran into an interesting article on the Journal of Accountancy discussing Analytic Auditing.  The article is written from an external audit perspective and focuses on two benefits.  First analytics provides auditors with greater insights into their clients’ business that help to quickly get up to speed on the external audit customer’s business model.  Also the article mentions how analytics provide better service to Continuous Auditing Processclients.

The article also states a position that I’ve had since learning analytics as an external auditor… that external auditors’ use of analytics lags far behind that of internal auditors.  I think a key reason for this is access to and familiarity with data.  As an external auditor it took several weeks for me to gain access to a new client system. Once the client granted my access, I didn’t have much time to pull something useful together.  Rarely did my projects have more than one or two models.  As an internal auditor, I’ve had the same difficulties getting initial access to the system.  But once granted access I can continue to develop models as long as my results are useful to the organization.  On certain projects/systems this period lasted for several years and allowed for deep exploration and understanding.

To me one of the most impactful sentences from this article is “The profession [external auditing] needs to achieve a “quantum leap” to redesign audit processes using today’s technology, rather than using information technology to computerize legacy audit plans and procedures. ”

See more at: http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2015/apr/data-analytics-for-auditors.html#sthash.QvfD7Lqt.dpuf”