An effective audit management software enables internal auditors to seamlessly plan and execute audit engagements. The capability to dynamically manage team members, effortlessly generate status reports and automatically analyze big data sets is a major advantage to any audit team leader.
Efficient resource planning ensures engagements are successfully completed within deadlines while embracing best-in-class project management techniques. Coordination with process owners becomes easier through reducing inefficient communication/document-sharing channels such as emails and shared folders. Both the auditor and the auditee are on the same page about the status of testing and issues outstanding. This greatly reduces the time spent on clarifying outstanding issues. Further, the automatic report generation feature makes it really simple to generate recommendation reports using pre-defined templates.
In addition to the features mentioned above, there are a few dominant trends that motivate auditors to adopt audit software.
SaaS model of deployment
As per Gartner’s Market Guide for audit management solutions, only 35% of the software vendors utilize a SaaS model for deployment currently. However, by 2020 the SaaS model of deployment is predicted to grow faster than the on-premises solution. The cloud-based software deployment model is becoming more relevant as audit teams are more frequently working from remote locations and using mobile devices to conduct audits. IDC predicts that the demand for SaaS enterprise applications is accelerating and exceeding the demand for on-premises applications by five times (during the five-year forecast period through 2018, SaaS revenue is forecast to grow at 17.6% CAGR, while on-premises revenue growth is only forecast at 3.1%).
Visual, non-cluttered interfaces
MSOffice, specifically spreadsheets, is the most popular software used by auditors to plan and execute audits. However, as we mentioned in the article “SOX and Spreadsheets”, spreadsheets can cause more harm than good while performing critical tasks in the organization. The biggest problems arise due to the restricted ability to view live statuses and to review previous versions of a task. Audit software, generally, includes a visually graphic dashboard containing pie charts, bar graphs etc., which gives a quick snapshot of the current status of testing. Further, the latest web applications are designed with an elegant, non-cluttered interface and are easy to navigate across pages, in contrast to the endless tabs present in an audit test spreadsheet. SoxHub is one such software that is built using visual dashboards and simple interfaces.
Value added offerings and data analytics
The latest audit software solutions efficiently perform standard audit tasks such as scoping, planning, resource allocation, testing templates and reporting. But, in addition to these tasks they also perform functions such as data analysis, trend forecasting, evaluating key performance indicators etc. These features greatly enhance the quality of reports and also help management with decision-making. Gartner predicts that by 2020 at least 60% of audit management software will embed data analysis capabilities in their software compared to 25% right now.
These trends clearly indicate a shift towards more transparent, coordinated and data-driven audits. Auditors and Management are cognizant of the increasing complexity of financial transactions and realize the need to adopt more systematic audit methods to identify irregularities. Aided by the recent advancements in SaaS applications, the new generation of audit management software is sure to help auditors rise to this challenge.