As part of our Spotlight on Success series, we spoke with Ben Phillips, Vice President of Internal Audit at PetSmart, about how AuditBoard has helped him and his team reduce administrative tasks and focus more attention on addressing the changing needs of their business.
How would you describe the PetSmart philosophy?
At PetSmart we love pets and we believe that pets make us better people. Every day, with every connection, our passionate associates help bring pets and their pet parents closer so they can live more fulfilled lives.
Tell us a bit about the makeup and activities of your team.
Our typical year is divided between Sarbanes-Oxley controls testing, operational auditing, store auditing, and other consulting engagements that are requested by management throughout the year based on the skills and abilities my team brings to the company. It’s not uncommon, particularly this year, for our audit plan to evolve throughout the year based on the changing business environment and needs. And we’re always looking to re-align our activities with the changing risk profile of the company and the needs of our business. We want to ensure that any project we undertake drives value to the organization and to everyone involved.
What challenges did you face before you implemented AuditBoard?
When I think about how we evaluated different solutions for audit technology, it brings me back to the beginning of my journey at PetSmart. I joined the company in 2014 and at that time the use of technology in internal audit was extremely limited. Before AuditBoard, our associates were spending an inordinate amount of time doing administrative tasks and were not being utilized to their full potential as auditors. So I knew we were missing opportunities, and they knew we were missing opportunities to really develop our practice and to develop their professional skills.
What led you to lean toward AuditBoard over other options?
We have a relatively small team, so any solutions that come with significant administrative burdens and a lot of non-value-added work is basically a complete non-starter for us. We watched the AuditBoard demo, we talked to some of the team members, and it was clear how easy it was going to be for our staff to use this solution. It was also evident that on the administrative side, the system was really user-friendly. Little tasks like adding permissions to different elements, modifying the layouts, building reports — we found them to be incredibly efficient using the AuditBoard solution compared to others.
How was the reception of AuditBoard by your control owners?
Our stakeholders have really embraced AuditBoard. They appreciate how easy it is to use the system — that’s the most common feedback we get from both the internal audit team and other business users that access the system for different reasons. This is because of how easy and intuitive it is to use. Notifications is one example that comes to mind. We send out our SOX control certifications using WorkStream and after the first round of testing in the first year we implemented, we got a lot of feedback from control owners that they were getting too many emails, especially the ones that had many controls. It didn’t take long for our team to look through AuditBoard settings and figure out how to change notifications to weekly digests and the control owners were impressed and pleased with how easily we were able to provide a solution for that small issue within one day.
What other changes or benefits have you experienced?
Overall, our organizational transparency has been advanced. Being able to see where the audit plan is, where each audit project is in its life, and where individual associates and their work are progressing has been a key to fostering better communication and collaboration, both across the internal audit team and the different teams within our department, and also with management as we work with them. Another game-changing factor is the ability for our associates to work anywhere in the world using AuditBoard. They can partner on steps if they’re not in the same location, they can share work papers using AuditBoard, reviews can happen while one team member is traveling, and there are no chains tying us to the office for this work. I can tell you this has been essential to our work efforts during COVID-19.