Cangemi Perspectives: Building the Business Case for Data Analytics
Michael P. Cangemi, a former CAE and C-level executive, is a Senior Fellow and advisory Board Member of the Rutgers Continuous Auditing and Reporting Lab. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.
Managing a business is about mustering resources, people and capital investments to advance a business objective. That isn’t always an easy feat, and I have found that far too often IA and GRC functions let progressive projects stop when they encounter a challenge.
One type of project that is often delayed or brought to a halt is the implementation of an analytics program. It is often the lack of a vision from a leader, investment from the business, and/or the knowledge and drive of a skilled project owner that shelves these initiatives.
But it does not have to be this way. I would like to share excellent advice from Emory University that was presented in a recent webinar hosted by Audimation Services on how to implement an analytics framework. You can also watch the one-hour webcast for yourself here.
My advice is to start with a focus on the need to get authorization for the expense and/or capital expenditure. This webinar demonstrated how the efficiency and effectiveness of using software tools can help you justify the return on investment and accomplish your goals.
Get the Right People
In the past 10 years I have authored three major research projects on the use of analytics and published numerous articles on the subject. What I have learned is that in most cases the desire is there, but many functions fall short on executing a plan for implementing data analytics and building the right skills.
Both can be accomplished by engaging the right partners for guidance. I have two in mind: first, a software developer who has dedicated their business to helping customers who need to use analytics to accomplish their mission; and second—unless you have the scale to build all the talents and skills required—some outside consulting help.
Emory University uses an analytics specialist who guides a center of excellence rather than trying to make everyone an analytics specialist. In the specialist model, not all staff become analytics implementation experts. Instead, everyone learns what can be done with analytics and how it can be used to improve the audit coverage. Outside consultants provide additional guidance and advice.
In the presentation, there was a good discussion of moving from a reactive to a proactive audit approach. Emory University selected IDEA to support this approach. The tool comes with many prebuilt software tools, including an “import assistant” and a Benford’s Law module—a tool CaseWare IDEA built with the help of Mark Nigrini, PhD, the leading expert on this analysis method. Emery University also likes the support teams and resources available with IDEA.
The webinar also offered many good examples of analytics techniques and how they moved to a continuous monitoring program with management alerts and new visualizations. One new interesting topic for me was a discussion of crime analytics—a compelling use of analytics working with local law enforcement.
Overall, the webinar presented some great advice to assist groups like IA and compliance departments get their analytics systems up and running and then advance to levels that will no doubt dazzle their management.
Interested in learning more? Watch the entire one-hour webcast here.
About Michael P. Cangemi
Michael P. Cangemi is a senior fellow at Rutgers University and serves on the Rutgers Continuous Auditing and Reporting Lab Advisory Board. A former CFO and CEO, a prolific writer, active speaker and senior advisor to various companies, Mr. Cangemi now focuses on providing continuous auditing, continuous monitoring and analytics intelligence for GRC, Finance and Business Process Improvements. He also serves on FEI’s Committee on Finance & Technology (CFIT) and their GRC Sub Committee; the EDPACS Editorial Advisory Board; and the ISACA Governance Committee.
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