How Astellas Gained a Global View of Risk

How Astellas Gained a Global View of Risk

In our Spotlight on Success series, Jennifer Handzel, Head of Global Internal Audit ExceIlence and Transformation at Astellas Pharma Inc., shares how her audit team engages their global stakeholders to gain insight into the organization’s top risks. Astellas is a Japan headquartered pharmaceutical company that conducts business in approximately 70 countries, and is dedicated to improving the health of people around the world through the provision of innovative new drugs and solutions that drive patient access to healthcare and better outcomes. Hear how this team gained a global view of risk by switching from a manual environment to AuditBoard, including:

  • Leveraging AuditBoard’s connected risk platform to centralize data, process, and methodology for a globally dispersed team. 
  • Gaining visibility with a global issues tracker dashboard that enables the audit team to both drill down for a detailed view of status and to provide a high-level view to management and the audit committee.
  • Identifying risk themes and trends across the organization to drive focus on the most critical global risks. 
Jennifer Handzel of Astellas shares how her team gains valuable insights from having a single source of truth for global risks and issues.

Tell us a little about Astellas, and some of the challenges you faced in your previous manual audit environment. 

“Astellas’ mission is to focus on innovative drugs and to drive greater value to the patient — providing access and delivering drugs where there’s unmet need. When I think about what internal audit is doing to help Astellas focus on what’s most important — the patient and developing innovative drugs — we’re making sure the control environment is strong, that we have good processes, and that we’re efficient so the organization isn’t worried about those things.”

“[Before AuditBoard] Astellas did not have a system. We used SharePoint and various shared drive sites throughout our different regions, and access to information was scattered. It wasn’t readily available to have a view across the globe.”

How have you leveraged AuditBoard’s connected risk platform to gain a global view of risk? 

“We were looking for a system, and AuditBoard’s OpsAudit has delivered a view of our risks globally, so we can gain insights and identify global risk themes. We have one place to find all of our global issues, and we have dashboards now that can help us manage our program. We can easily see the status of our audit plans, and we can give high-level view to our leadership team, as well as to our audit supervisory committee. Having visibility into all of our audit issues in one place in a global issues tracker, and having the reporting ability to extract that information and perform analysis has really been helpful for us in identifying risk themes and risk trends — and has helped us really identify where the risks lie and where we need to focus.”

“I think that having our implementation of OpsAudit go live in March of 2020 was almost perfect timing for us. We knew we wanted to have a global system, and it really did create that one place, one process, one methodology for everyone to focus on and work in one way. ” 

Tell us about how you and your global stakeholders have experienced AuditBoard’s customer-centric approach. 

“When we were looking to make the decision to purchase AuditBoard, it was a bit of a challenge trying to convince my colleagues in Tokyo, Japan to purchase a tool that’s going to be supported in California and the United States. One thing that I have a fond memory of is that an individual at AuditBoard who spoke Japanese was traveling in Japan at the time made a special visit to our Tokyo office and presented a demonstration to our Tokyo colleagues in Japanese. I think the great customer service up front and the willingness to show our colleagues that AuditBoard is going to be able to support the tool globally was something that stood out for our management team — we knew that AuditBoard was going to go the extra mile.”