The audit landscape is changing – and digital disruption is paving the way. Archaic data collation and analysis methods are quickly becoming redundant as modern technologies such as the Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and advanced analytics transform the industry. And as these technologies change the audit process, the role of the auditor is transforming too.
With these technologies and tools at their disposal, the auditor’s day-to-day activity has moved from simple data analysis and reporting to include predictive analysis, forecasting and consultancy. Advanced audit analytics software, AI and Big Data in the cloud enable auditors to provide deeper insight and help businesses to validate and support future decisions.
Analytical audit software for example, bring many of these technologies together to streamline the traditional audit and empower the auditor. However, while transformative, analytical audit systems are increasingly reliant on the ability of the auditor to truly utilise the data, as well as a business’ ability to understand it. A fact to keep in mind is that analytical audit systems are not a means to an end, but rather a part of the existing audit process that amplifies the auditor’s ability to deliver valuable insight.
Analytical audit systems will give you the data and the reports, but they won’t give you conclusions. To reap maximum benefit from an analytical audit system, businesses should aim to train their staff comprehensively to hone their judgement. This will allow staff to easily identify false positives in the anomalies and interpret unusual activity that the software flags up as worthy of further investigation. And, as a direct result, employees will not only understand the system and how it operates, but also know how to make best use of the insights unlocked by data analytics.
The training should focus on the importing of data, data gathering, data interrogation techniques and report analysis. Covering each of these aspects will ensure that everyone within the business can import data into the analytical audit system, as well as interpret the data to produce valuable reports. The idea is that over time, you build your business’ knowledge in the analytical process to the point where they understand the analytical audit platform extensively. Of course, achieving this level of expertise takes time – but many analytical audit software solutions will include pre-defined reports which allow anyone to quickly pull specific information out without the need for specialist knowledge or training.
However, while the automation of certain tasks will undoubtedly prove useful and streamline the audit process, ultimately the audit professional remains at the heart of the operation. As the traditional audit moves away from number crunching and instead towards data analysis, interpreting data, recognising trends and false positives, knowing when – and how – to use these new analytical tools as part of an audit is vital.
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