Dedicate an Analytics Champion

analytics leaderTo create a successful analytics program in internal audit, you must dedicate a person to serve as an analytic champion.

In an earlier post I outlined 10 Signs Mgmt Doesn’t Really Support Analytics.

The first sign I noted was the lack of a full-time analytic champion.

What Does an Analytic Champion Do?

Don’t get hung up on the term analytics champion; call it an analytics lead, analytics manager, whatever.

It is more critical that the person is dedicated to doing analytics and building an analytics program full-time.

This person does NOT need to be a manager or director, but this person certainly needs creativity and leadership skills, and the ability to influence others.

That doesn’t mean this is the ONLY person doing analytics, but this is the person that is leading the process, has or is gaining analytics experience, leads by example, and is the one responsible for moving the department forward (with the support of management, of course).

Typically, this person needs to wear many hats, so it helps if this is a technical person who understands audit, technology, IT processes, is a self-starter, able to teach, a problem solver, gets along with people, and has a thick skin. And doesn’t give up easily.

These qualities are necessary because getting analytics going in most audit departments is an uphill battle, and this person usually faces battles outside the department also.

Ideas for Getting a Dedicated Champion

One way to get a dedicated champion is to create a business case outlining the value a dedicated person can bring to the department.

If your management is hesitant to dedicate someone full time to this job, then ask whether you can try for half-time: spend half of your time doing regular audits, and 1/2 time focusing on analytic work and developing an analytics program.

You could suggest that you spend 50% of your time doing analytics–things like:

  • Doing more advanced analytics in your own audits.
  • Assisting other auditors in planning their analytics, getting and validating data, and doing the actual analytics in their audits.
  • Holding a periodic meeting (monthly or quarterly, depending on your progress) to share what you and other auditors are learning. That way, everyone can learn from your mistakes and successes. Whenever possible, have other auditors describe and demonstrate what was learned.
    • If management doesn’t attend these meetings, make sure they hear about it when someone is successful, especially when others outside the department noticed your work. The more others talk about the successes, the more your case is strengthened.
  • Keeping metrics on the analytics that are performed so that you can measure the progress being made. The first year, I gathered the statistics from the auditors myself because I needed a baseline. After that, I had the auditors complete the statistics spreadsheet. I will write a post describing metrics in more detail later.
  • Share tips and tricks on analyzing data in Excel, ACL, or whatever software you use.

Plan B

If your management won’t agree to even 50% dedication right away, then do what I did–Do as much of the above as you can with the time you have while doing your regular job.

In other words, lead from behind. Again, have others toot your horn and describe the value that is being created as much as possible.

After I showed the value I could add to the department based on my own, part-time efforts, over the course of a year, my management agreed to let me do analytics 50% of the time.

That year, I ended up spending 70% of my time that year doing and helping others with analytics–my management saw again all the value I was adding, they gave more of my audit work to other auditors so I could focus more on analytics.

The next year I was able to make the case to dedicate me full-time to analytics, and that was a couple years ago.

Some Final Thoughts

Management’s Program, Not Yours

First, make sure you have the full backing of management, and that management really wants to develop an analytics program. If so, management needs to consistently support your efforts publicly, in departmental meetings and emails.

You need to make sure that you are creating and running the analytics program for your AUDIT MANAGEMENT.

I made that mistake in the beginning–most of the auditors saw the analytics program as “skyyler’s thing” and not the “CAE’s thing”. As a result, I gained little traction with most of the auditors.

So ask management for their support; if necessary, suggest the message you want delivered; in other words, they need to say things like, “We need to do more analytics, and skyyler is going to help us.”

Provide management with supportive messages to deliver regularly; when you achieve a milestone, have management announce it.

Green, Yellow, and Red Dots

Second, when building the program, focus on the green and yellow dots, not the red ones.

Red dots are people who resist the changes and new processes that analytics requires; they fight you publicly and behind your back every chance they get.

Green dots see the value of analytics and are eager to learn and grow; they are your allies, and the people that you ask to describe their successes in department meetings.

Yellow dots are on the fence, waiting to see whether management is serious and whether you will be able to deliver the value you talk about.

Encourage them, and ask for their assistance and ask them to do minor tasks to help you. Then praise them for it publicly.

If your red dots are being really destructive, mention to management that you’d appreciate it they “encouraged” particular people to stop doing X & Y, and start doing A & B.

In other words, ask management to do their job: manage.

Give Others Most of the Credit

Third, when auditors try new things or accomplish something (even with your help), publicly praise them and build them up; don’t be afraid to give them all the credit.

Usually, they will mention how much you helped, but even if they don’t, they KNOW you helped, and the point is to get people moving and advancing the analytics program.

Let me know if you have any questions or other suggestions.



Filed under Audit, Data Analytics, Written by Skyyler

7 responses to “Dedicate an Analytics Champion

  1. Pingback: 10+ Signs Mgmt Doesn’t Really Support Analytics | ITauditSecurity

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  3. Rine

    I agree with your sentiments. I did just that last year and in my team I’m considered the analytics champion. I’m only doing analytics part time. Still pushing towards full time analytics and I can say I have made progress by getting my CAE on board, assisting my colleagues in their analytics assignments and coming up with ways to incorporate analytics in their audits. Last year I was at 20% last year, this year I’m around 50%.


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