Audit management evolution: the role of platform-based solutions
Audit management is done to ensure the effectiveness of an entity, process or function within an organization. In the context of financial governance risk and compliance (GRC), audits are conducted to ensure effective risk and compliance implementations. Given the increasing complexity of regulations and risk management processes, it's no surprise that the necessity and reach of audits have increased multifold. They are becoming more frequent and covering wider areas of an enterprise than ever before.
Over the last ten years, there has been an understated shift in the operational model of overall audit execution. A function that conventionally used to be thought of as a post-process formality has gradually become an extended part of the overall GRC program. Until very recently, the process was typically conducted purely as a review activity and, as such, was not considered particularly important or worthy of a broader scope. Furthermore, the absence of a defined workflow meant that the audits were basically toothless - lacking the power to ensure that the recommended actions were implemented. As a result, the highlighted inadequacies of the audited entity often continued unabated. In order to overcome these limitations and conduct effective audits, the industry has moved away from traditional methods towards a process that has defined objectives, tangible results and end-to-end workflows. This shift is creating a more contextualized, risk-driven and workflow-based approach of conducting audits.
This process shift is transforming the technology landscape of financial organizations and moving from line-of-business (LOB)-focused, custom-based solutions to enterprise-level, integrated product-based GRC solutions. These platform-oriented products offer end-to-end capabilities, which means that they are able to conduct a contextual audit that begins at the point from from where the need originates - the GRC function. These GRC platform-based products accomplish an enhanced audit process by bringing the entire lifecycle under one roof.
These leading GRC products integrate and automate the steps in the audit process - identification and assessment of the auditable entity, risk assessment, contextual audit planning, audit scheduling, on-the-ground execution, determining gaps and actionizing them. This ensures an effective, enriched and easier way of monitoring the audit process. Due to their workflow-based approach, these platforms also enable an organization to plan and track the whole effort spent on the audit process - starting from project planning, scheduling, costing, tracking and reporting. Some of the leading platforms that offer GRC Audit Management are MetricStream, IBM Open Pages and RSA Archer.