From Agile to Analytics: 6 Key Trends for Internal Auditors
2018 was an interesting year for audit professionals in Europe and the world over. The next year, however, promises to bring even bigger challenges and opportunities for internal auditors – ranging from agile to analytics. Here’s a look at some of the key trends to look out for in 2019:
Third-party service providers
Companies are increasingly focusing on their core competencies and outsourcing a lot of ancillary operations and activities to vendors or third-party partners. However, this outsourcing is not without its risks. This can be a complex thing to manage for internal audit teams. Who then is to audit the third-
party service providers? Such external vendors have contractual obligations and service level agreements that need to be met. There are a whole host of risks to monitor and processes to be maintained. Monitoring and auditing these can be challenging, time-consuming and costly. Some internal audit teams now have supplier assurance duties and this trend seems to be on the rise.
A talent shortage is in evidence for the internal audit function in certain countries and industries. With new regulations coming into force in 2018, and many more planned for the coming years, the need for qualified audit professionals is being felt across the board. Companies aiming for a specific headcount level are finding it hard to fill roles in a timely manner.
Another area experiencing an increased focus from both large and small audit companies is the digital risk. Digital tools and channels present cybersecurity risk and the associated financial and reputational damage. The focus is shifting towards managing data flows, digital processes and authorisation matrices and likewise internal auditors may have to also focus on this too.
The use of Cloud and other services such as SaaS which processes sensitive data via remote locations poses a new set of challenges for internal auditors. These services undoubtedly assist in making developments faster or cheaper, but they add an additional layer of complexity when it comes to managing and auditing risks.
Audit analytics is another promising technology in store for 2019. Digitisation generates huge amounts of data, smart algorithms, and data analysis tools to ensure that information can be sifted through and analysed properly. It can be a challenging proposition to shift gears from traditional audit methodologies and adopt such a new paradigm quickly, but a game-changer nonetheless for those willing to make the change. And the change will be continuous…
Agile is making its way into Audit. Agile auditing can be faster, more streamlined and efficient compared to traditional auditing. However, it can also be complex to implement and might not be suitable for each and every situation. Companies already agile in their operations would find it easier to adopt agile auditing but for others starting out, it is more problematic. This is definitely a trend to look out for in 2019.
2019 promises to be another momentous year for the audit profession. There are as ever new technologies, concepts and solutions to explore. Each of the trends highlighted above offers new opportunities to those who have the necessary skill set or are willing to invest the time and energy to build them.
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