Wrapping up our spotlight series on audit leaders during International Internal Audit Awareness month, we spoke with Erich Manz, Corporate Controller at Allegro MicroSystems about how his team has kept operations moving effectively during the transition to working remotely. Learn how his team leverages technology to communicate with global stakeholders, save time and costs by centralizing all audit documentation in one location, and get full visibility into their control environment at a critical time.
Tell us about your role and internal audit at Allegro MicroSystems
My name is Erich Manz, Corporate Controller at Allegro MicroSystems, a global leader in power and sensing semiconductor technology. Our focus areas are at the center of safety and sustainability in automotive and industrial markets, where energy efficiency, green technologies, and safety are propelling innovation. Currently, we hold the number one position in market share for Magnetic Sensors and are a top supplier of Automotive integrated circuits (ICs). With over 9 Allegro products in most conventional vehicles, if you own a car or have driven one, you’ve likely used our products. We’re headquartered in Manchester, NH and have major manufacturing, sales, marketing, and engineering sites, located worldwide.
We’re a private company, but our process for becoming SOX compliant began in 2008-2009 to satisfy the compliance needs of our parent company in Japan, which was going through the J SOX process at the time. Prior to AuditBoard, our compliance efforts were very manual. To create efficiency, we developed an in-house tool in SharePoint to help, but it ultimately became too big for the finance and IT departments to support. Around that time, we were introduced to AuditBoard — we looked at it and saw that it did exactly what we needed. We love having everything in one system, and we’ve been with AuditBoard ever since. Everything from control narratives and procedures to policies and account reconciliations are housed in AuditBoard.
What are some of the impacts to the business and internal audit from the COVID-19 pandemic, and how have you addressed them?
As a business, we’re a diverse company with entities around the world, and each of these areas has experienced some effects from the crisis. Like many other organizations, we’ve been figuring out how to have staff work from home with minimum disruption to our routine work environment. Of course, many of our manufacturing employees can’t work from home, so the company has been getting creative about ways to keep everyone safe at work in this new situation.
As an internal audit team, we’re in a unique situation because we have a March fiscal year end, which coincided directly with the pandemic. Additionally, we have a new audit firm this year. It’s a unique situation, both for us and our audit firm. We’ve never done an external close or a remote close before. Fortunately, we already have all our audit documentation in AuditBoard — control ownership, preparer, reviewer, the listing and language of control — it’s all there. This streamlined the process of coordinating with the rest of our team, not only for setting up the internal audit role for our consultants, but also coordinating with our external auditors. Our CFO CEO, BoD, and audit committee have been thrilled with the work we’ve done so far by not having any hiccups in the process.
How were you able to maintain the continuity of your audit process throughout the pandemic?
At the start of the pandemic, I was inundated with emails from every service provider with suggestions on how to manage our close work process, from using a tracking worksheet and a close checklist to ensuring our team was communicating remotely. I realized that because we were already working in AuditBoard, we had already addressed those concerns, and as a result, we were already completely equipped and had everything in place to work remotely.
It really is all about efficiency for us, and our transition to remote work really highlighted a lot of the efficiencies we’ve gained in AuditBoard. The time and cost savings of having all of our controls information logged and documented in one centralized location has proved to be invaluable, and more than justifies the ROI of AuditBoard. From the internal audit side, automating so much of the day-to-day administrative tasks for team members has saved hours of time — we’re not having to go back to emails from six months prior just to find information because we have an audit log that automatically tracks all changes, and we have a record of the communication between the control owners and reviewers within the solution. As the Controller, AuditBoard gives me full visibility into our control environment. From an external auditor standpoint, the time and cost savings of not needing our external audit group to spend billable time compiling the data to test has also been significant.
How has AuditBoard enabled you to stay connected with audit stakeholders during the crisis?
As a global company, being able to communicate with our subsidiaries in Asia, Europe and South America through AuditBoard has been a seamless experience. Getting everybody everything they need in this situation has been very streamlined. Overall, we’ve had a phenomenal experience with the Customer Success team at AuditBoard. When quarantine went into effect, someone from AuditBoard reached out to us to touch base and ask if there was anything they could do for us, and my response — “we have everything we need.”
I’m so glad we already had our audit management solution in place when this crisis hit and weren’t trying to build something on the fly. If we didn’t have AuditBoard today, I think we’d need two more junior staff people just to manage the admin tasks — in a team of 20-25, that’s 10% more. Honestly, though, I think you couldn’t manage what we’re doing without some type of system, and I can’t imagine not having AuditBoard, especially in a time like this.