Why audit management software is money well spent

Mary Oyerly

Stick with the tried and true, or bring in something new?

The choice can be difficult to make. A new software solution or business application usually involves a budget request. This can be a tough case to make when your department is a cost center like audit.

But with increasingly fast-paced and complex work, the old, manual way just isn’t cutting it for auditors anymore.

Something’s got to give

With more regulations, economic uncertainty, cyber threats and risk, audit teams are buried under a constantly growing roster of tasks. You’re seeing it and you’re living it. Activities related to Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) alone could become your team’s full-time job.

The challenges are many: complex regulations, disconnected systems, insufficient resources, the ever-growing need to bolster cybersecurity, aligning efforts with risk and compliance and engaging stakeholders with compelling, actionable reports.

Technology to the rescue

Put the power of technology to work for audit, compliance, governance and risk management with a strategic software solution, so you can do more with less.

Think automated workflows, emails and reminders, a centralized library of standardized templates, and 3D robots creating storyboards and dashboards for one-click reports. It’s now possible for teams to extend controls testing out from mere samples to an entire population, and use machine learning and prescriptive analytics for even more insight.

In-office teams aren’t the only ones to benefit. Mobile apps and offline modes support fieldwork on and offsite. What’s more, the solution easily connects to any data source — SAP, Oracle, Concur and beyond — for comprehensive visibility and seamless scalability.

See everything, track everything and do everything faster, with greater accuracy and confidence. Sounds great in theory. But how well is it working in practice?

Is the investment worth it?

Diligent brought in Forrester to find out. The global research firm conducted a Diligent-commissioned Total Economic Impact (TEI) on a publicly traded, $3.5 billion company with a 100-person audit team and roughly 1,000 colleagues involved in SOX-related work.

Before using an audit management software, the team, like many audit departments, conducted their compliance and reporting manually and collaborated over email. Over two dozen events per year, including eight audit committee meetings and quarterly SOX activities, were taking up to four weeks of each employee’s time, per event.

Faced with an unsustainable, unscalable workload, the organization invested in Diligent Audit. Forrester asked leaders in internal audit, audit innovation, SOX compliance and audit operations how it’s been going so far. Here’s what they said.

The results are in

Productivity shot up. Automated controls testing, for example, was a big area of time savings, trimming tasks that used to take 4 hours down to just 30-60 minutes. And direct access to data meant that 1,000 business owners no longer needed to call or email the audit team for the information they needed.

“[Business users] don’t have to email us asking about this or that,” said the Head of SOX Compliance. “They can do it themselves.”

To see status reports and progress updates, business users used to “just wait for the follow-ups [to their request] or request progress updates from their audit partners,” the Head of Audit Innovation told Forrester. “Now they have this real-time dashboard where they can see the real-time progress of their activities.”

The Head of Audit Innovation noted time savings as well. “Previously, when we requested data, it took us two months to obtain them. Now, because the tool can connect directly to the system, we can just reuse the scripts and have the data instantly.”

Overall, the audit team was able to complete their 25-30 annual projects each year with 35-50% less people-power. More efficient committee and SOX reporting generated $916,000 in cost savings — and 251% ROI.

Fewer errors and rework, more time to grow

Using audit management software also made the team more effective. More accuracy and less human error reduced time and money spent fixing costly mistakes. Reduced rework, plus less time spent on manual tasks, freed up the audit team for the work they’re trained to do. Naturally, this makes it easier for operations to grow and scale.

So far, this $775,000 investment has yielded $2.72 million in benefits — and the organization is just getting started.

In conclusion, effective audit software earns its keep by accomplishing many things: making tasks like roll-forwards fieldwork more efficient, increasing audit consistency, elevating audit quality and more, while empowering you to deliver high-impact reports at the speed of business. How could such an investment pay off in your operations?

Download the full TEI report to learn more about the study and about Diligent Audit.

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Mary Oyerly
Mary Oyerly, Senior Specialist at Diligent, has experience working across the B2B and B2C SaaS sector and supporting the needs of corporate and not-for-profit business leaders. She has worked extensively with governance technologies and how they can drive improved visibility, efficiency and compliance across the business.