SOURCE: LockPath, Inc.


May 27, 2015 00:00 ET

Four Reasons Why Excel Decelerates Audit Programs

OVERLAND PARK, KS--(Marketwired - May 27, 2015) - Is there a tool or technology you refuse to let go of because it's comfortable and works well enough? Maybe it's a 30-year-old drill, grandma's hand-me-down cookware or the phone you refuse to upgrade.

At home, using antiquated technology is simply a lost opportunity to be more efficient. When it comes to audit management inside a complex organization, however, it's a practice that wastes time and money, hinders information sharing, and could increase the risk of audit failure.

Yet many in the audit management world still rely on the old standby of spreadsheets. Not that spreadsheets don't serve a purpose, but they are limited in their capabilities.

Here are four downfalls of using spreadsheet applications for audit purposes:

  1. They limit transparency and information-sharing
    We live in a world of interconnectivity and collaboration. Information must be instantly attainable regardless of physical location. With spreadsheets, however, information is trapped within the confines of the application. The inability to easily collaborate and share data amongst personnel involved in the audit process is extremely counterproductive and inefficient. Consequently, having limited access to data means audit trails cannot be effectively maintained and investigated. Another result of data being isolated is that thorough reporting and dashboards cannot be adequately accomplished, therefore losing valuable insight to audit findings along the way.
  1. They are labor intensive and time consuming to manage
    Scattered data requires aggregation to complete audit reports. Extra resources are necessary to perform extensive, investigatory due diligence. What's more, certain add-ons that can be bolted onto Excel are necessary to perform certain tasks crucial to the audit process, such as: sample data testing/analysis, continuous monitoring, revision time-stamping, and exportation of findings for resolution. Not only are these processes and tasks labor intensive, they are also time consuming and expensive.
  1. They potentially jeopardize data confidentiality and accuracy
    The aforementioned limitation on collaboration often results in lax document distribution practices, which could jeopardize security and confidentiality of data. Access management control becomes a major concern when digital documents are issued manually to swaths of personnel. Sensitive data could end up in the wrong hands. With a multitude of people working on these documents with little governance and oversight, errors are inevitable. These inaccuracies, whether they be formulaic, invalid data, etc., can snowball in future efforts and create false reports.
  1. They often lead to multiple versions of reports
    Lastly, and probably the most frustrating, is versioning control. Because data cannot be pulled from a central repository and worked within a uniform environment, there is the risk of data being imported/exported into disparate versions. Differing versions means that data cannot be converted fluidly, ultimately running the risk of data loss or alteration. Running up-to-date versions of the application to avoid such frustrations seems like an easy enough fix; however, for organizations that have many touch points in the audit chain, ensuring every applicable device is utilizing the same, current version of Excel is merely an afterthought.

Because it has been the standard tool of choice for so long, people have grown accustomed to Excel's shortcomings. The fact that it does not offer optimal functionality for the tasks at hand is often disregarded due to widespread comfort and familiarity. For those involved, the use of Excel is the white elephant in the room. No one wants to be the one to disturb the status quo by demanding a better option. However, integration of new audit solutions can save organizations a great deal of time and resources necessary to tackle these processes.

One such option is GRC (governance, risk, and compliance) software, like LockPath's Keylight. Robust GRC solutions effectively manage end-to-end audit processes. These processes are streamlined by automatically generating audit and remediation tasks while also providing tools for viewing and sharing audit performance, findings and history. The chaos that was once associated with audits is transformed into an easily governed and manageable environment through task harmonization and data centralization. This collaborative system results in reduced time and effort spent aggregating data, which greatly cuts the demand for necessary resources. It's also important to note that data and analytics can be exported and re-imported into Excel for auditors who are reluctant to dive in completely.

Excel does serve a purpose. In audit management, however, its shortcomings cause inefficiency and frustration. The importance of audit management should lead organizations to conclude that the efficiency and effectiveness of new technology should trump the familiarity of old standbys.

About LockPath
LockPath is a market leader in corporate governance, risk management, regulatory compliance (GRC) and information security (InfoSec) software. The company's flexible, scalable and fully integrated suite of applications is used by organizations to automate business processes, reduce enterprise risk and demonstrate regulatory compliance to achieve audit-ready status. LockPath serves a client base of global organizations ranging from small and midsize companies to Fortune 10 enterprises in more than 15 industries. The company is headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas.

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