In our Spotlight on Success series, Brandon Clinefelter, Director of Internal Audit at National Storage Affiliates, shares how his team gained significant time savings on their SOX compliance work. Based in Colorado, National Storage Affiliates is a real estate investment trust dedicated to self storage facilities, with more than 1,000 properties across the United States. Hear how this team increased external audit reliance and added more business value by switching from a previous SOX tool to AuditBoard, including:
- Leveraging AuditBoard’s SOXHUB solution to streamline communication with external auditors by allowing role-based access to necessary documentation.
- Completing internal control testing reviews in real time, reducing SOX hours by 20% year-over-year.
- Using their time savings to work on strategic projects in other areas of the business.
Tell us a little about National Storage Affiliates and what led you to make the switch to AuditBoard from your previous SOX tool.
“I am the Director of Internal Audit for National Storage Affiliates, which is a real estate investment trust focused on self storage real estate. We run and operate about a thousand stores. When I originally came to National Storage Affiliates, I had been in other internal audit shops and I’d used everything from a Word and Excel environment to other audit and SOX tools.
I knew when I started the department that I wanted to have an effective tool that was going to make us able to do more. Immediately, we jumped on one of the AuditBoard competitors — but over the course of time realized it wasn’t the right one for us. We subsequently shifted to AuditBoard.
One of the things you can tell when you use AuditBoard is that it was developed by people who have sat in our seats and done the work that we’re doing. It’s so easy to use and the flow for all of the testing makes sense.”
How has AuditBoard helped you increase coordination with external audit?
“One of our priorities in my internal audit group at National Storage Affiliates has been to get significant reliance by our external auditors on our internal audit work. We find that to be a great value add to the audit process. In order to do that, we wanted to make sure that our external auditors could very easily and effectively jump into our internal audit control test work to pull out what they need.
AuditBoard makes that very simple. Everything is all in one place, easy to access, and also limited to only the controls that we feel comfortable sharing. The benefit is that we continue to have a significant portion of our control environment relied upon by our external audit every year. This is a huge win for us, not only with our management team, but also our audit committee.”
What other benefits have you realized by centralizing documentation in AuditBoard?
“One of the things I didn’t realize that we’d be getting from AuditBoard when we shifted over was a more effective review cycle around our internal control testing. The ability to add our auditors in and have review notes go back and forth in real time, including directly from my email box, has just made our process so much faster. Since switching to AuditBoard from our previous SOX tool, we’ve been able to reduce our hours and move up our deadlines about 20% from the previous year.”
What has your team been able to accomplish with that time savings?
“Having AuditBoard helps us to keep our SOX effort to a minimum and allows us to have a lot of extra free time to work on projects that are more beneficial to the business. We’re able to use our influence in cybersecurity, ESG, and other areas of the business that our management team considers to be key strategic focuses.”