3 categories of internal audit automation

At the start of the automation journey, internal audit functions often focus on the low-hanging fruit of control execution. But automation happens on a continuum, where each level of automation sets the scene for additional efficiencies. As you get more advanced in what you choose to automate, the easier it is to identify further areas for streamlining. We like to bucket automation levels into three main categories: 

1. Data extraction

This early stage of automation focuses on identifying controls or testing attributes to extract data from source systems and create a testing population or test sample. That might look like: 

  • Automating a sample selection based on an annualized population 
  • Comparing scheduled jobs between periods to determine population and sampling 

2. Business logic and analysis

This stage focuses on preparing data for testing, populating the testing sheets, and performing test steps or complete attributes to verify your controls. This might look like: 

  • Automatically populating a testing sheet with information such as username and approval date  
  • Confirming approval for migration of data changes 
  • Joining data sets for analysis using a unique ID 

3. Evidence creation and retention

The last stage uses automation to create or pull non-structured data—like screenshots, PDFs, and signed validations—as supporting documentation from ticketing systems and cloud sites while saving them to the appropriate repository. This might look like: 

  • Extracting direct data update request documentation and approvals for each sampled direct data update via the service request (SR) to verify proper documentation and approval 
  • Pulling relevant IT policies and procedures from your company’s cloud 
  • Capturing and saving screenshot evidence of approver signoff 

Of course, as with every automation journey, there is no true end—and as priorities shift, regulations change, and technology improves, you’ll find new ways to innovate. For more ways to track your progress to a leading class audit function, explore the 5 internal audit KPIs you should be tracking. 

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