Au­dit ma­na­ge­ment – Think­ing out­side the da­ta an­a­lyt­ics box

The majority of our customers who use data analytics rely on ACL™ products such as ACL™ Analytics or ACL™ Analytics Exchange, which are ideal for analysing large data volumes. In other words, they are perfect for “number crunching”, either locally and manually, or centrally and standardised.

This in itself can be relatively complex. Add in the hectic pace of an audit, the need to work through findings and follow-up tasks – and accomplishing everything by relying purely on stacks of working documents and draft reports, Excel or Word documents and e-mails becomes very difficult indeed.

Fig. 1 - Data analysis and audit management are often difficult to reconcile.

This is where ACL™'s third flagship product comes into its own. Offered alongside the company's well-known analytics solutions, ACL™ GRC is fast gaining popularity.

Behind the relatively unspectacular name (the almost overused acronym GRC stands for Governance, Risk and Compliance) lies a powerful data-based audit management tool which offers a wealth of practical functionalities. These can be used online or offline, on a mobile basis or on a PC, and really show their full potential where teamwork is involved. And since the solution is completely browser-based, it scores highly in terms of usability and even set-up and training becomes far less daunting. ACL™ GRC is a state-of-the-art audit management solution which is easy to use and boasts a sleek, future-proof design.

The software is modular and includes the following four components:

  • Project Manager
  • Results Manager
  • Risk Manager
  • Reports Manager

Project Manager helps structure your audit and analytics projects. One of this module’s strengths is creating templates so you have the relevant specifications and work packages (e.g. based on RCM, the risk control matrix) immediately to hand for similar projects (audits). Although templates are supplied (e.g. for SOX or ICS testing), you can also create your own, based on past projects for example. So you don't have to continuously reinvent the wheel, and training new employees is also reduced to a minimum. Put simply, Project Manager supports users in planning, the completion of milestones and recording and evaluating results, abnormalities and findings.

Fig. 2 - Project plan including risks and controls in ACL™ Project Manager

The Results Manager module helps simplify action tracking/follow-up activities. Instead of sending dozens of copies of Excel files and manually monitoring the responses, results can be effortlessly sent to colleagues, departments or the audited unit via automated workflows. Creating and attaching predefined questionnaires is also easy. After dealing with them, the recipients of results/queries can upload files, add comments or set processing status data. Everything is automatically pooled at a central location and as no manual intervention is required, there are almost no redundancies. Results can be displayed in the Results Manager, with summaries provided in stylish storyboards (words and pictures):

Fig. 3 - Storyboarding in the ACL™ Results Manager

The Risk Manager module provides a bridge between risk management and compliance. You can record corporate risks, map them in relation to the corresponding organisational units and processes, and thus show the company’s entire risk landscape. This module is completed by an evaluation of the relevant risks (probability of occurrence, impact).

Fig. 4 - The Risk Manager audit universe

Finally, Reports Manager helps automate visualisations and reports and present them graphically.

Overall, ACL™’s audit management solution closes a gap and makes it possible to embed data analytics tools in a complete, fully integrated risk management solution.

One particularly attractive feature for us is that ACL™ is also open to other suppliers of analytics software. In the Results Manager module, for example, you can use drag&drop to incorporate results from data analyses which have not been produced using ACL™ but which are available in Excel format or as a CSV file. Specifically, this means that you can combine almost all analytics tools with ACL™’s audit management solution, and also use ACL™ GRC independently of all other ACL™ tools.

So much for the solution's individual components – let’s now move on to our own personal evaluation.

At dab: GmbH we specialise in data analytics, especially transaction data from SAP® systems. We are therefore especially pleased that integrating data analytics also forms a key part of the ACL™ GRC solution – because we believe this is the only way to ensure modern risk management.

When the solution was first presented to us around two years ago we had some concerns, notably as regards the cloud functionality. We weren't sure if a cloud solution would be accepted. However, much has happened over the last two years. Cloud solutions are now firmly established on the market, as demonstrated by, for example SAP®, Microsoft™ or Adobe®. The fact that the data for ACL™ GRC are hosted in Germany and that German law thus applies confirms the seriousness of the ACL™ approach. The cost factor is also a key reason for considering the ACL™ solution more closely. It requires virtually no installation or update work (where internal activity allocation takes up a major part of the software budget), making the TCO (total cost of ownership) attractive compared with on-premise solutions.

We are curious about which direction ACL™'s audit management solution will take. We believe it will increase ACL™'s presence and extend its prominence beyond “traditional data analytics”.

You can find initial information on ACL™ GRC on our website. Please contact us for further details.

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