Audit will change

Traditional analytics are and will be in use for the next years in audit. Will Process Mining really start an evolution of audit, as many leaders say?

Big data is changing the way organizations operate, and internal audit departments are no exception. The growth in data means a growing need for analysis, putting pressure on auditors to gain even more insights into the inner working of operations and processes, rather than basing audits on a small data sample. Big data within an enterprise can be daunting, but also be the key factor for empowering decision-makers through a strong knowledge foundation. After all, the key to finding common ground lies in a company’s data.

Equipped with new tools

Auditors lacked the right tools to analyze the vast amounts of data, and properly inspecting and analyzing data that runs across multiple departments and IT systems is a challenging task. Finding the needle in the haystack with all that data requires a tool that provides full transparency and data reliability.

However, today’s tech world offers auditors new possibilities to analyze their companies’ concerns. Since their main task is to take a closer look atcritical activities and processes to A) prevent bad things from happening and B) make improvements, it is not only important for the auditor to know which questions to ask before he can solve issues, but to find a common language to communicate about those issues with the person responsible. Process mining fits this requirement all too well.  

Mining for clarity and transparency

By collecting data from a company’s IT systems to visualize and analyze processes that occurred with the ability to understand deviations or details in a broader context. This helps auditors to understand both details and the big picture, e.g. finding non-conformant deviations and assessing their impact. In other words, auditors get a profound understanding how the process is working and determine how the company should be operating for efficiency and productivity. The presence of event logs and process mining techniques enables new forms of auditing. Rather than sampling a small set of cases, the whole process and all its instances can be considered, even on a continuous basis. Is that Auditing 2.0? Maybe.

Audit is a lot about achieving clarity through understanding the patterns around processes, so they can ask the right questions, for instance whydoes the process deviate? What are the root causes? How can we increase compliance? Process mining enables auditors to answer many of those questions themselves and focus on bigger and even better questions to foster solution-minded conversations, too. The focus of an auditor shifts from “fixing some problem” to “contributing to organizational transformation”, fostering a culture of communication and proactive change.

That, in fact, might be the evolution of audit, which companies like KPMG already embrace.