Internal Audit Automation Set for Takeoff?

A fledgling software developer may be pointing to the future of audit technology and a boost to the internal audit profession.

“What has been lacking,” she continued, “is timely, context-based analytics that can provide audit teams with a continuous view of risk and control issues while at the same time providing audit evidence to support an auditor’s risk assessment and findings.”

Reliant comes prepackaged with a large library of controls based on commonly used business rules and processes. While it accommodates customization, a selling point is the opportunity to get up and running quickly. Wilhide is buying it. “The value is that it has these predelivered controls and business rules, which makes it much quicker to implement,” she said.

Added Heriot Prentice, director of standards and guidance for The Institute of Internal Auditors, “Most of the [GRC software] products are not ones that you can just plug in and they suddenly run. If this new package is something that’s quite intuitive and doesn’t take a lot of end-user knowledge to get the thing working, it will have a huge advantage.”

Vision of Transparency

ReliantAuditor is the brainchild of Dipak Shah, a retired investment banker. The product’s genesis goes back to his days in that business, where he said he routinely observed accountants exiting companies just as deals were scheduled to go through. “Often there was an audit-related issue that came up at the 11th hour during the due diligence,” he told CFO.com. “I started to wonder why there was no clear-cut visibility [on audit issues].”

Shah developed a vision of a continuous auditing tool that would provide complete transparency on all business processes and internal controls to a company’s internal and external auditors, C-level executives, and operational managers.

In February 2006, he met Bill Hagerman, executive director of internal audit at Mindspeed Technologies, a publicly held semiconductor and networking solutions provider. Shah, as it turned out, was working in the very direction Hagerman wanted to go.

After going through Mindspeed’s first year of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance in 2005, Hagerman had told his boss that a fully automated audit solution would be far preferable to the more manual documentation and testing processes he had used. He got approval to purchase software for the task, and started looking into what was available.

“I made the decision right off the bat that I wasn’t going to buy five applications to do everything I needed — but there was nothing out there that consolidated everything,” he said. “Then I ran into Dipak through a mutual acquaintance, and he shared the same vision I had.”

Mindspeed became the beta client for the development of ReliantAuditor, a process that took more than two years. “Any time you start up with a beta, it’s a risk, because you’re sinking capital into it and you don’t know if it’s going to come to fruition,” Hagerman said. “But I believed in Dipak’s plan. We started on version 0.93 and when we went to 1.0, I knew we had a viable tool. Now we’re on 2.5, and it is a kick-ass tool.”

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