Watching the hours on the clock tick past, it is hard to refocus on your laptop screen to the same controls process you have done over and over. Extracting a mere sample of 30 transactions from the thousands in your ERP to detect anomalies is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Once you have the sample, you have to spend hours manually searching through documentation and documenting the control. When the analysis is complete, you just have to do it again for the next set of controls.
It is a herculean feat to wade through that amount of work. However, there is a solution: utilizing technology to continuously monitor your entire data population, not just a sample.
If any of these pains sound familiar, or even if they do not, there are some tell-tale signs that it is time to automate your compliance.
In this article, you will identify the pain points in your internal audit core functions and learn about a solution to ease these problems and allow you to succeed and thrive.
You are out of the loop
When it comes to compliance, it feels like there is always something new coming around the corner. While you are stuck going through routine sampling and testing, things are happening in the background that it is impossible to pay attention to. You are trying to perform country gap analyses, complete IFC maintenance, and lead audits, all at the same time. Not to mention, when something does not make sense on a document, it can be difficult to identify the last few members on the audit trail. Some signs that you are out of the loop are:
- Consistently missing critical compliance support or materials
- Receiving several notices of overdue documentation or control needs
- Missing critical legal or compliance updates
- Controls are duplicatively performed without communications/historic version preservation
- Difficulty identifying questionable activity
- Inability to track management actions
Everything is taking too long
It always seems like when you are just wrapping up one control cycle, the next one is about to start. Manual control testing takes on average 35 hours per key control. Manual sampling and testing can drag on, and it inevitably leaves room for errors to fall through the cracks. It is always a pang in the heart when you get an email reminding you that support documents were requested the week before and it just slipped your mind. Some signs that the compliance process is taking too long are:
- Trouble accessing records quickly and dependably
- Senior management has expressed displeasure
- Delayed response time to audit requests
- Struggle to keep data current
- High turnaround time for user onboarding
- Copying previous audits without much editing, leading to risk breaches
- Stale accounts build up
Your workload is off the charts
Every morning the working world logs into their emails and tries not to cringe when they see the number of unread emails, messages, and meeting requests that entered their inboxes. It seems like no matter how much work is completed, there is always an equal amount, if not more, left to do. It can get to a point where such a workload is overwhelming, something that can be simplified by integrating your systems with automation. Some signs that your workload is too high are:
- Struggle to keep up with an increasing workload of control tests, deliverables, or KPIs
- Too much manual data handling
- Feel like you are constantly doing busy work
- It has been a while since you have done creative and effective collaborative work
You are struggling with your expansion
Whether it is hiring another member, opening a new office, or hiring overseas, expansion comes with its own slew of problems. Growing companies need to control their risks; Between integrating new members into your systems, assigning permissions, and onboarding, internal controls and risk control measures must be implemented to help manage risks. Trying to keep track of all the nuances that come with expansion can be cumbersome and cause pain in the compliance process. Some symptoms of growing pains are:
- Difficulty managing a global workforce
- Struggling to perform a remote audit
- Inefficiency scaling your GRC matrix
- Trouble managing internal controls throughout different entities/countries
- Difficulty adapting IC to local specifications in a global context
- Doing business with international customers, with multiple languages, or in gray/risky countries
If you find that you are struggling with any of these points, it means that automation is right for you. Automating your controls reduces testing time, facilitates new hiring and client processes, reduces workloads, and provides continuous updates on system performance while constantly updating the audit and legal requirements in real time. For a more complete list of the benefits of automation, read our article on 5 benefits of automation here.