Price-Water Cooper (PWC) releases its State of the Internal Audit Profession Study report annually. The most recent report focused on the differences that exist between “Observers,” “Followers,” and “Evolvers.” It similarly sought to tie the three to organizational approaches for adopting data analytics strategies for internal effectiveness. According to the study, organizations that embrace technology and align it to their strategic plans often have better internal audit outcomes.
Internal Audit Data Analytics Strategy
What’s an Evolver?
Evolvers are defined by PWC as organizations that have advanced as far as technology adoption is concerned. Meanwhile, Followers typically lag behind, thus adopting these technologies later on. On the other hand, Observers do not take notice of these technologies. What’s worrying is the fact the PWC’s report points out that a paltry 14% of organizations are Evolvers. Even so, 75% of Evolvers regard their internal audit functions highly.
How Do Evolvers Use Collaboration Tools?
43% of Followers and 74% of Evolvers use collaborative tools. With the maturity of your audit program, more stakeholders ought to be included in the audit process. For instance, intranet sites and shared devices facilitate cross-functional communication between all internal stakeholders. Nonetheless, these tools still require you to manage reminders and conversations. As the number of stakeholders increases, you are also required to enhance the amount of administrative follow-up tasks.
In many audits, time allocation is a crucial performance indicator. Nonetheless, workflow struggles tend to weaken the effectiveness of internal audit functions. Gathering audit documentation and close documentation are primary reasons why audits end up taking longer than their allotted time. The Chartered Institute for Internal Auditors explains that communication between internal auditors and audit managers lessens the time management burden.
Gathering audit evidence increases time allocated, since risks that are not appropriately controlled require additional investigations. Using dashboards that have operational workflow task management functionalities help audit teams to communicate effectively, and also share documentation thus lessening time spent to undertake audits.
How Evolvers Use Audit Planning and Risk Assessment Tools
Evolvers often focus on implementing an analytics strategy that helps them build a strong risk management strategy that focuses on prioritized risks. You must have insight about the ever-changing risks that your organization faces. This is an integral component of the enterprise risk management process. Governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) shouldn’t focus on moment-in-time risk evaluation but rather on the continuous monitoring and assessment of the environment.
In cybersecurity, continuous monitoring is important since zero day attacks can undermine your operations at any moment. Since cybersecurity risks can change at any point, you should review threats as they arise since this will help you attain stronger audit, compliance, and security stances. Even though Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) has been in use for years, big data gathering and analysis allows your organization to incorporate it.
How Evolvers Use Ongoing Monitoring and Reporting Tools
The tools that help you formulate strong risk management strategies can also help you monitor and report your compliance, security, and auditing effectiveness continuously. It is advisable to take a security-first approach to audit and compliance. Nonetheless, this requires automation and artificial intelligence. You need tools that can help your audit department establish what happened, what’s currently happening, and what’s likely to happen in the future.
By utilizing analytics capabilities, you will be able to incorporate predictive outcomes that pose a threat to your data environment. For instance, PWC’s “What to Expect from AI” report explains that artificial intelligence helps malicious actors to rapidly advance malware.
In case you are using similar predictive technologies in an effort to enhance your analytics maturity levels, you are less likely to experience a security breach. Having fewer security breaches will allow you to maintain an appropriate security level, which mitigates regulatory-required and standard best practices. It similarly guarantees effective data protection.
How Evolvers Maintain Continuous Auditing Capabilities
The first step towards maintaining continuous auditing capabilities is reviewing potential risks. Thereafter, you need to ensure that you maintain a strong and reliable cybersecurity control system. It is equally important to prove that you have mitigated potential risks as part of your organization’s internal audit procedures.
Evolvers do not only incorporate data analytics to manage and alleviate cybersecurity risks. They also use Software-as-a-Service and dashboard tools to constantly prove their compliance stance. Traditional audit approaches mainly focus on isolated moment-in-time glimpses at your IT security. Nonetheless, you need to have increasingly real-time insights to prove that you have a continuous compliance approach as far as data protection is concerned.
In line with this, it is recommended that you choose Software-as-a-Service and dashboard tools that will not only ease communication between stakeholders, but also allow constant documentation and insight. This will help you identify and mitigate risks that your organization faces.
Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to
pursue just that. He has propelled Reciprocity’s success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT. Learn more at ReciprocityLabs.com.