The development of auditing software and technology applications has lagged behind that of other practice areas, but a steady evolution of automation and data analytics is providing auditors with resources to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. The auditing profession can gain from innovations in many ways, including leveraging the human mind to its highest and best uses and letting automation handle standardized tasks. In “The Future of Audit: Technology,” (http://bit.ly/2To1lkK) the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) encourages implementing an “agile strategy” to transform the audit approach, developing and adopting beneficial technology, and ensuring professional training to incorporate new skill sets.
This month’s column examines a few audit software-related websites for useful articles, videos, whitepapers, and other materials that may be of interest to audit professionals.
AuditNet Audit Library https://www.auditnet.org/audit-library
AuditNet (http://www.auditnet.org) is a communications network portal for the audit profession that promotes the use of technology in audit training and performance activities. Its website offers resources, tools, and training options, with a particular focus on audit skills, audit software, and information technology auditing. Many of its materials are available on its mobile applications for iPhone and iPad, Android devices, and Windows desktop and mobile devices, all of which can be easily found on AuditNet’s home page. The website itself is also mobile-friendly.
The AuditNet audit library (https://www.auditnet.org/audit-library) is a great place to start, with over 70 topics listed in alphabetical order, such as audit workpapers and checklists, manuals and guides, and sampling. The spreadsheets topic webpage is a must-see and also offers video tutorials in Adobe flash (http://bit.ly/2t4UAJf). The library includes an audit software list of 20 different products, a few of which are included below, with brief descriptions and links to the providers’ websites (https://www.auditnet.org/audit-library/audit-software). Audit tech tools target a few commercial data analytics applications (https://www.auditnet.org/audit-tech-tools), while many of AuditNet’s specialized audit templates are available for free (https://www.auditnet.org/audit_programs).
AuditNet conducts periodic user surveys, with an emphasis on technology issues, audit software, and fraud detection. Some of the surveys are available under the publications section of the website or in the AuditNet newsletter; however, the fairly recent “2016 Survey on the Effectiveness of Audit Technology Training” is a little hard to find (http://bit.ly/2Uu9l3L). Not surprisingly, the survey found that a large percentage (70%) of respondents have a technology gap in their organization. Two easily addressed issues were that 58% did not put their training to use until later, and 40% were not given the option to provide feedback on its effectiveness.
Caseware and Caseware Analytics
Caseware (http://www.caseware.com) is a provider of audit software and working papers. The related Caseware Analytics (https://www.casewareanalytics.com/) is the source of the popular IDEA data analytics tool, along with other audit and accounting controls software.
Caseware’s website provides free access to a large collection of short articles, generally focused on technology-based accounting and auditing, as well as cloud applications (https://www.caseware.com/us/events/articles). “Spreadsheets vs. Databases: How to Weigh the Tech Benefits” is an even-handed discussion of these two options, covering similarities, differences, and weaknesses of each (http://bit.ly/2HFtRwF).
Many of Caseware’s free resources require registration, but blog articles are easily accessible without any sign-up. Blog offerings include a helpful summary of EY’s latest “Global Fraud Survey” (July 2018), which indicates that while individual countries have improved their fraud and corruption levels, global results show that the majority of countries have not made much progress. With no surprise, cyberattacks are a major organizational risk (http://bit.ly/2Tog1Aj).
Audimation Resources http://www.audimation.com/Resources
Audimation (http://www.audimation.com) is a distributor of Caseware data abstraction and analysis software and mobile applications, data analytics services, and online and live training courses. Resources (https://www.audimation.com/Resources) that may be of interest to public users include articles and videos addressing auditing, fraud, data analytics, and best practices, among many other subjects. Articles are provided by regular Audimation contributors and presented in a quick blog format.
“To Catch a Fraudster: Are Auditors Responsible for Detecting Fraud?” (November 2018) discusses the responsibilities assigned to auditors by the PCAOB, SEC, and other regulators. It also addresses differences between financial statement audits and fraud audits, as well as the importance of educating clients (http://bit.ly/2RXexjH).
While many of the videos and webcasts are specific to particular software, several are broad enough for any auditor to benefit. The Financial Statement Analytics Series is a four-part series by Jeremy Clopton at BKD that uses financial statements to illustrate ways to detect fraud. The videos average approximately 20 minutes in length and include excellent examples from computerized ledgers. “Balance Sheet Analytics—A Focus on Accruals” covers omission of liabilities, overstating liabilities, entry timing, and nonsensical entries. There are two videos on income statements, addressing revenues and expenses separately. The revenue fraud demonstration addresses fictitious revenue, premature revenue recognition, channel stuffing, and circular revenue transactions. The expense presentation includes missing expense items, spreading expenses, vendors in unexpected accounts, and timing discrepancies. The concluding video, “Financial Statement Analytics—A Bird’s Eye View,” explains how analytics can be used on the financial statements as a whole and not just the underlying data (http://bit.ly/2WrLCDj).
Audit Analytics for CPAs by CPAs is a three-part series of webcasts that run approximately 50 minutes each. “Part 1: Audit Efficiencies and Data Analytics” and “Part 3: The Successful Implementation of Data Analytics” demonstrate the use of IDEA software in their discussions, but the information presented can be applied with a variety of other resources. “Part 2: Fraud Prevention” is a broader overview that covers common fraud scenarios, data analysis, journal entry tests, and other topics (http://bit.ly/2WrLEep).
ACL Resource Library https://www.acl.com/resource-library/
ACL Services Ltd. (http://www.acl.com) is a commercial provider of audit, compliance, and risk management software based in Vancouver, Canada. ACL’s website offers a collection of free internal audit-related articles in its blog (https://www.acl.com/blog), and whitepapers, e-books, webinars, and product demos in its Resource Library (https://www.acl.com/resource-library).
The top highlighted article on the ACL blog is “An Overview of Agile Auditing,” which explains that the term “agile” originated as an approach to software development that generated rapid feedback during the development process, not after the project was completed (https://www.acl.com/audit/agile-auditing/). Agile auditing uses flexible planning in short spurts, with continuous communication among the audit staff.
The blog also links to a webpage with a detailed summary of “ACL 2018 Audit Survey Results.” Almost 60% of respondents reported using nonautomated or ad hoc audit analytics, while 20% used no analytics and only 2% used advanced analytic testing procedures (https://www.acl.com/audit/2018-audit-survey-results/).
The Resource Library contains almost two dozen webinars. One-time registration is required to view the webinars, but the user gains access to the downloadable slideshows that accompany each. The Agile Auditing video runs approximately one hour and covers the history and characteristics of an agile process and the application to auditing (http://bit.ly/2RucYok).