Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Word of the Day (Month!) - Could technology be a "Gister?"

I'm reading another of Dan Brown's fast-paced and thought-provoking novels. (Brown wrote DaVinci Code, Angels & Demons) It's an earlier one, titled Deception Point, and it features a character whose job is my new favorite word, even though the word seems to be made up by the author.

The character (Rachel Sexton) is a "gister" or data summarizer for the National Reconnaissance Office. A "gister" reduces complex reports into single-page briefs. After reading a few Federal OIG audit reports for Research Universities, I'd like to have Ms. Sexton's help, as even the OIG's executive summaries need a little "gisting."

Perhaps a bit like an audit executive who presents the last three months of their audit staffs' activity into a briefing for the Audit Committee. Or the auditor who uses analyzes 100,000 expense reports and uses a query tools to identify how many comply or don't comply with a particular policy.

How are you and your team reviewing complex data to get to the gist of an issue? Are there any tools that you are you using? Why? Let us know...

Joe Oringel
Visual Risk IQ
Charlotte NC, USA

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Setting IIA / ISACA speaking dates this fall

Continuous auditing and data analysis remains a very hot topic, as evidenced by our uptick in speaking requests this fall from IIA and ISACA chapters. Several dates are already set in the next few months, and requests continue to come in for programming and education that help audit and finance leaders understand and quickly apply latest thinking in data analysis techniques.

We have content already developed for 1/2 day and full day programs, in addition to executive briefings that are ideal for IIA District or Regional Conferences.

Some representative Data Analysis and Continuous Auditing speaking events include:
  • September 11, 2009 - Baton Rouge IIA Chapter. 1/2 day session
  • September 16, 2009 - Greensboro, NC IIA Chapter. Full-day session on Data Analysis, with Tableau software and Audimation
  • October 7, 2009 - Columbia, SC - ISACA Chapter. Full-day session on Data Analysis and Continuous Auditing
  • November 18, 2009 - Greensboro, NC IIA Chapter. Full-day session on Continuous Auditing, with David Payseur of Arrowpoint Capital and Dr. George Aldhizer from Wake Forest University.
Other events are in discussion and may soon follow. Contact us for information regarding a similar CPE event for your local chapter or district conference.

Joe Oringel
Visual Risk IQ
Charlotte NC, USA

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Anything worth doing is worth doing well - and Often!

I had a discussion today with a panelist who will be speaking about Continuous Auditing / Continuous Controls Monitoring at an IIA Chapter meeting later this month. The panelist's shared services group uses a leading CCM system for one very specific business area - Travel & Entertainment. They have had a very favorable ROI with their use of CCM, and users in Finance, Internal Audit, and elsewhere all appreciate the workflow capabilities of their CCM system. Users and especially management recognize that the workflow capabilities and also frequent extraction capabilities is a quantum leap forward from ERP query tools and data analysis tools like ACL and IDEA. Instead of spending time to extract data and run scripts, the CCM solution automates those steps and allows more time for research and resolving issues.

He asked me what other business processes make good applications for CCM, and I shared that it's a variety of application areas - everything from review of Manual Journal Entries to Accounts Payable Disbursements to Grants and Contracts in Higher Education. Across multiple industries and also across multiple systems.

So whether it's updating an audit plan quarterly instead of annually, or analyzing manual journal entries for fraud or error monthly instead of quarterly. If it's worth doing, ask how you might do it more frequently. With modern CCM tools, you'll find that many important financial control activities can be done well, and Often!.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Shopping (around)

You've got to like a headline like this, regardless of the substance of the article. But the good news is that the substance of this article (from the Chronicle of Higher Education) is almost as good as the headline. For both universities and for commercial enterprises. Purchasing projects, especially for indirect categories, represents an excellent opportunity to improve the bottom line. These services can be bought from traditional consulting firms like Bain, McKinsey, or Accenture, and also from niche firms who specialize in only these Purchasing services.

Also interesting, though not in the Chronicle's article. is the potential synergy between improving Purchasing and CCM-T.
In the last few years, we've had deep-dive meetings with a number of firms who specialize in SG&A cost reduction and vendor negotiation. It has become clear that among their most distinctive strengths are data analysis and vendor negotiation. Their projects are net cash flow positive, funded by realized, hard-dollar savings, paid on a contingent fee.

Once new contracts are re-negotiated, the firms review actual spending and compute realized savings, to compute their fees. Which represents the opportunity for CCM-T. Just as Visual Risk IQ has implemented CCM-T to review invoices and invoice lines for suspicious, fraudulent, or duplicate payments, we also can configure CCM-T to review invoice lines for rogue or unauthorized spending from non-preferred vendors.

So if you're a CCM-T user looking for improved business value from your implementation, or a finance, audit, or procurement executive looking to improve your bottom line through an evaluation of your Purchasing group, let us know. We know some great places to shop!

Joe Oringel
Visual Risk IQ
Charlotte NC, USA