What is analytics?

Using analytics during audit activities to drive value is a leading discussion point in boardrooms across Corporate America. A survey conducted by Protiviti in 2018 identified that audit executives are taking note—approximately 60% of firms plan to expand headcount to develop analytics in their departments.

As an analytics professional in multiple audit shops, I have observed the required need to take action to address analytics knowledge gaps. The audit committees are stressing a desire to demonstrate ROI and audit leadership is transcending this message to audit teams.

“How do we demonstrate to the audit committee that we are using analytics as often as possible? Can we use analytics in each of our audits? How can we show that our analytics are valuable?” is the quandary of audit leadership. And this message is transmuted onto audit teams that they are to demonstrate the use of analytics. Initial concerns arise—how do we begin? Where do we go? What the heck is an analytic anyways?

The audit departments out there are beginning to hire dedicated professionals who can lead the drive to implement an analytics program. But, this takes time to gain traction—a successful analytics professional walking fresh into a new position has to adapt a framework into procedure, implement technologies to access and use data, become familiar with business process, and build sustainable analytics. (In my case, an analytics project lasts anywhere from 1 week to 2 months, depending on availability of resources and complexity of the task at hand.)

So, audit teams are left clamoring for data while the newly hired analyst is working diligently to produce results. There is unease when the boss comes looking for some semblance of an analytic.

Yet, as an auditor, you are most likely already doing some type of analysis that is considered foundational to an analytics program. Every time you pull data and tickmark any irregularity, you’ve completed an analytic. Every time you perform a v-lookup in Excel or highlight duplicates, you’ve completed an analytic. Each and every time you use data and draw a conclusion, you are most likely doing some type of an analytic.

Sure, there are much more complex analytics than what I mention above. With the right resources, these advanced analytics will be there for your group and you can share the related use cases with your boss. Alas, don’t fret- as mentioned prior, you’ve been doing analytics all along! Analytics, as defined by Oxford Dictionary is: “Information resulting from the systematic analysis of data or statistics.” As you can see, you’ve already done half the effort as far as analytics is concerned. Smile! It gets much better…

See you next time!

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