If you're involved in the digital transformation that's shaking up the business from top to bottom, you're likely also upending the neat little world your auditors have lived in. The move to digitize processes, retrain people, refocus job roles, and rely on cloud resources for vital functions means auditors are going to have to throw away their playbooks (they do have playbooks, don't they?) and figure out new ways to assess the health and wealth of their businesses. They have to become savvy IT experts in their own right, and start poking their noses much more deeply into IT processes. These days, auditing types have to look through today's IT systems to determine how well data and access is locked down, how well things are governed, the role of cloud,. That's the word from Protiviti and ISACA, which recently released a survey of 1,323 chief audit executives, internal audit professionals and IT audit vice presidents and directors worldwide.
Technology is also streamlining existing business and audit processes alike. For example, asset verification has been a critical, labor-intensive audit step. Today, Deloitte auditors are using a proprietary application called Icount on their tablets and smartphones to scan and consolidate inventory count results automatically for real-time consolidation and analysis in an online portal. While conducting the count, the auditor can use a voice-to-text capability to create documentation, take pictures of the observed inventory, and generate the audit working papers automatically. Another benefit of innovation for private companies involves performing competitor analysis and identification of leading practices.
When state Auditor Elaine Howle told a joint legislative committee this month that University of California central administrators had amassed a $175-million undisclosed surplus, paid fat salaries and interfered in her audit, lawmakers cried foul. One compared UC administrators to corrupt officials in Bell. Another called for UC President Janet Napolitano to resign. Some wanted to know whether UC officials had committed any crimes and should be subpoenaed. But UC regents struck a markedly different tone when Howle came to talk to them about the audit Thursday.
Enterprises are exploring opportunities driven by digital transformation, identifying technology-driven paths to deliver more value, more quickly, while also benefiting from new process efficiencies. IT auditors must do the same to ensure they remain valued partners by the organizations for which they work. As enterprises increasingly harness technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics – and deploy methodologies such as Agile and DevOps – the IT audit teams of the future would be well-served to mirror this approach if they wish to thrive amid the business technology landscape of the future. Traditional auditing methods need to be revisited to more directly align with how businesses are operating, so audit teams are living what they are auditing instead of operating in parallel universes from their business partners. If auditors are going to audit areas like DevOps or Agile, it stands to reason that they should have direct familiarity with those methodologies.