Spreadsheets, originally designed for financial modelling and budgeting, have been increasingly used for data analytics within auditing. However, best practices of internal auditing and fraud detection have matured and therefore reliance on spreadsheets has decreased in favour of more reliable and sophisticated tools. Investment required for spreadsheets is low, however this can be deceptive; errors, record input limitations and slow speed of analysis can represent hidden costs.
Alternatives to spreadsheeets should be considered for data analysis because of the below:
The lack of data integrity that spreadsheets offer
Data can be altered easily once it is entered into the spreadsheet, sometimes accidently and other times maliciously. formulas across the spreadsheet in addition can lead to data errors.
Slow data analysis
The record limitations in spreadsheets mean that analysing billions of columns of data is a lengthy process. Data comes in many forms and merging data across spreadsheets is not a simple process. Manual errors may also be encountered.
No security, non-compliance
There is no proper way to track the modifications and changes to spreadsheets, As they get emailed along, duplicate copies can be made, each with their own modification.
Audit purpose solutions have built in tools to ensure the audit process runs more smoothly. These include:
Reliable and accurate data
Access data from any source, while the source data remains protected and therefore unchanged.
Algorithms exist to readily perform tasks such as Pivot Tables, Benford’s Law, join and relate data bases and many more.
Security and Compliance
A trail of all audit functions performed can be logged, making it easier to share processes with the audit team.
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