Moving Beyond Spreadsheets

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.

Quick analysis

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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Data Analytics Technology

Big data analytics has the power to predict the weather forecast, manage your workforce and even battle Parkinson’s disease.

Data advances are everywhere. It can help your organisation increase revenue and find out more about what your customers really want.  When data is analysed by the right people using the right technology it can be a powerful tool and it can even motivate your employees. Almost a third of workers admit that they would be happy for employers to access personal data, such as their social media profiles, to be better motivated at work. This will in turn increase employee performance and retention. Employers can further use this data to spot retention and performance issues and over half of HR professionals said that they were preparing for this shift.

An increase in data is not only changing the workplace, it is also changing the accuracy of information available, like weather forecasts. Years ago, the weather was calculated by monitoring cloud patterns and astrology. Now, thanks to massive amounts of data and advanced computers it is significantly more accurate. But it is about to become more accurate still – hyper-local real time weather forecasting is just around the corner. Part of the reason weather forecasts are becoming more accurate is the data and variables that can be entered into the predictions.

Big data analytics can even be used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Data collected from hundreds of patients will be used to analyse symptoms of the illness such as sleep quality, slowness of movement and tremor. The findings will be used for drug development, diagnosis and treatment.

While big data analytics is a powerful tool, the right people and technology are still needed to unlock it’s full potential. High volumes of data make accessing results and information in real time a challenge, which is where data analytics software can benefit any organisation. By eliminating the lengthy time process of drawing up the different data and conducting further analysis, computer assisted audit tools (CAATs) allow you to focus on the import part of data analysis – reviewing and reporting the results.

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Continuous Monitoring

In the current economic climate, the efficient monitoring of internal controls is essential to provide correct, timely financial information and minimise losses.

The benefits of continuous monitoring:
for audit:
  • reduce costs
  • monitor controls centrally
  • increase effectiveness and efficiency
  • detect early signs of fraud
for finance:
  • identify event before it’s too late
  • reduce loss of revenue
  • increase compliance
for IT:
  • monitor multiple systems centrally
  • early notification of system breaches
  • unlock information in system logs
CaseWare Monitor is our continuous monitoring software solution that provides security, reliability, flexibility and early detection to prevent fraud, enhance efficiency and improve compliance.
Take a more detailed look at CaseWare Monitor and how it can help you achieve better internal controls