In our Spotlight on Success series, Adam Tuchman, Senior Manager of Internal Audit for Party City Holdings, shares how his team reduced time spent on administrative tasks by 40%. Party City is the largest party retailer in the United States — with more than 850 stores nationwide — and they also manufacture many of the products they sell. Hear how Adam and his team evolved from a manual environment of emails and spreadsheets to automate their workflow and create efficiencies across the business, including:
- Streamlining communication and document sharing with external auditors to reduce audit fatigue for business stakeholders.
- Time savings from less internal back-and-forth when tracking down data and information.
- Using newfound time for activities core to SOX work, including performing targeted, clear, and detailed reviews.
Tell us a little about your team at Party City.
My department has four people. We’re responsible for internal audit, risk, and controls. Our work is focused around SOX and the testing done annually. We also help with maintaining the repository of controls — getting updates from management and helping in the certification process, and with the financial statements. In addition, we perform operational audits when time permits.
What was your team’s workflow like before using AuditBoard?
Life before AuditBoard was a bit chaotic: it was a network of spreadsheets, emails, SharePoint, and a little help from a third party tool. There were a lot of challenges, because with spreadsheets there were always issues of version control and how to document comments where people could find and react to them. We also had some difficulty getting results together for status reporting.
What led you to select AuditBoard to streamline your audit, risk, and controls environment?
We needed one system of truth — one place where we could have all of our testing, be able to summarize our results more easily, and be able to move our testing through various phases. We needed automation — trying to do things manually and keep everything in sync was a nightmare. Now, having the workflow capabilities in AuditBoard — with everything integrated together, from the definition of the control through the test — it’s been much more efficient.
How have you leveraged AuditBoard to streamline how you work with your external auditors and the business?
External auditors have been able to pick up the tool with a minimum of instruction. AuditBoard has been very helpful with external auditors. In the past, we would add documents to a shared drive, and zip things up to a flash drive and deliver them manually to external auditors. Now, in AuditBoard, we’ve set it up so that as soon as a test is completed for a reliant control, the external auditor can immediately review our work. We’ve also evolved to sharing document requests with external auditors — reducing the load on the business in a very big way. With one request, most of the documents can be used for external and internal audit testing. It’s a lot easier for the business to gather the documents we need for completing SOX testing.
How has centralizing your SOX and audit activities in AuditBoard helped your team save time?
The biggest savings we’ve had is in regard to the amount of time we put into document requests and administrative matters like status reporting and follow-up on tests that need to be redone. Reporting from AuditBoard — being able to get quick status reports — definitely helps with that.
AuditBoard saved us 30-40% of the hours we used to spend on administrative activities like status reporting, following up on missing documents, and following up on review notes. Just being able to see everything in the system makes it a lot easier. It also frees us up for more time to spend on activities that are core to SOX work, such as performing original testing and doing more targeted, clear, and detailed reviews of the work performed by others.
How has your use of AuditBoard changed since starting with the tool? Has it improved your team’s auditing procedures as a whole?
I like that AuditBoard is a software solution and that’s been able to grow with us. We started with SOXHUB, and we’ve added RiskOversight. We’re also working with OpsAudit and we keep on finding more things to use — not just for SOX, but with internal audits and our work with risk and controls. The tools help us with overall governance.