With the advent of new compliance requirements such as Internal Financial Controls (IFC) in India, the need of the hour is an effective compliance management software that will help management seamlessly plan and execute key tasks. The capability to dynamically manage team members, effortlessly generate status reports and automatically analyze big data sets is a major advantage to any compliance function. Efficient resource planning ensures engagements are successfully completed within deadlines while embracing best-in-class project management techniques. Coordination with process owners becomes easier through reducing inefficient communication/document-sharing channels such as emails and shared folders. Further, the automatic report generation feature makes it really simple to generate recommendation reports using pre-defined templates.
In addition to the features mentioned above there are a few dominant trends that motivate management to adopt compliance and audit software.
Intuitive status tracking and reporting
Spreadsheets are the most popular software used by auditors and compliance officers to plan and execute audits. However, spreadsheets actually cause more harm than good while performing critical tasks in the organization. The biggest problems arise due to the restricted ability to view live statuses and to review previous versions of a task. A good testing software, generally, includes a visually graphic dashboard containing pie charts, bar graphs etc., which gives a quick snapshot of the current status of testing. Further, the latest web applications are designed with an elegant, non-cluttered interface and are easy to navigate across pages, in contrast to the endless tabs present in an audit test spreadsheet.
Cloud-based SaaS applications
The cloud based software deployment model is becoming more relevant as audit and compliance teams are more frequently working from remote locations and using mobile devices to conduct audits. IDC predicts that the demand for SaaS enterprise applications is accelerating and exceeding the demand for on-premises applications by five times (during the five-year forecast period through 2018, SaaS revenue is forecast to grow at 17.6% CAGR, while on-premises revenue growth is only forecast at 3.1%).
Value added offerings
The latest compliance and audit softwares efficiently perform standard tasks such as scoping, planning, resource allocation, testing and reporting. But, in addition to these tasks they also perform functions such as data analysis, trend forecasting, evaluating key performance indicators etc. These features greatly enhance the quality of reports and also help management with decision-making. Gartner predicts that by 2020 at least 60% of audit management software will embed data analysis capabilities in their software compared to 25% right now.
These trends clearly indicate a shift in compliance and audit management towards more transparent, coordinated and data-driven audits. Management is cognizant of the increasing complexity in financial transactions and, realize the need to adopt more scientific audit methods to identify irregularities. Aided by the recent advancements in SaaS applications, the new generation of compliance and audit management software is sure to help management rise to this challenge.