Author Archives: skyyleracl

Is ACL Analytics Dying?

Spiral deathI fear that ACL Analytics is dying, and has been as long as I’ve been ranting about it.

Making Laurie Schultz their CEO helped, but I don’t think it has been enough.

NOTE: I wrote this well over a month ago, long before I posted the ACL Officially Changes Name & Spots post; I just got sidetracked and forgot about this post. I stumbled across it today in my Drafts folder. I decided to publish it ‘posthumously’ (so to speak) to show 1) how much I’m agonizing over ACL’s direction, 2) how I’ve always felt about ACL’s software, and 3) provide some balance to my previous post.

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ACL Officially Changes Name & Spots

It’s official: ACL is changing its name AND its spots.

I’ve claimed several times that ACL has left its first love (analytics) and doesn’t put enough work into their flagship product, ACL Analytics.

Correction: their FORMER flagship product.

At least they are publicly admitting it finally–they NO LONGER are an ANALYTICS company!

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ACL Desktop Gone in 5 Years?

Rumors have it that ACL will no longer be available on the desktop (laptop, or other local machine) in 5 years.

That is, according to an ACL user who attended the 2018 ACL Connections conference.

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Steal from Agile to Increase Audit Analytics

agile analyticsTo increase the amount and depth of the analytics performed, steal some agile methods, and apply them to your audits.

If you’re not familiar with agile methods, check out the first 5 topics listed here (just click Next at the bottom of each page; the topics are quick to the point and full of pictures).

Briefly, agile projects are performed in cycles, or iterations, rather than in a long, linear-waterfall fashion, which is: do all planning, then field work, then reporting. Each iteration of the project creates some value and includes feedback, which is used in the next iteration to increase the value of the project.

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Create a Team for Audit Analytics? Part 3

analytics team?In the previous post, Create a Team for Audit Analytics? Part 2, I explored the pros and cons of expecting all auditors to develop a level of data and analytic proficiency.

These auditors would continue to do audit testing that involves analytics as well as testing that does not involve analytics. In addition to keeping up their business skills, they would be learning and upgrading their data analytic skills.

In the first post of this series, I reviewed some of the pluses and minuses of creating a dedicated analytics team.

However, a third option exists, which is sort of a hybrid between having dedicated analytic auditors doing all the analytic work and requiring everyone to increase and develop their data and analytic skills.

Let’s explore the hybrid method in this post, and wrap up the series with a few final thoughts.

This is the third post of a 3-part series…

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Create a Team for Audit Analytics? Part 2

analytics team?In the previous post, Create a Team for Audit Analytics? Part 1, I explored the pros and cons of developing an analytics team.

This team consists of analytic auditors who are dedicated to analytic projects; they would NOT typically manage audits or testing that did not include analytics.

In this post, let’s explore another option for managing and growing analytics in an audit department — expecting all auditors to develop a level of data and analytic proficiency.

This is the second post of a 3-part series…

 

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Create a Team for Audit Analytics? Part 1

analytics team?Once your audit team has proven the value of doing analytics consistently, the next question is: Do we create an analytics team and have the team do all (or the majority) of the analytics?

Or should we expect all auditors to develop some levels of analytics proficiency?

Of course, this question often comes a bit further down the trail on the analytics journey, but I think the sooner it is decided, the better.

This is the first post of a 3-part series…

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The Analytic Staircase for Auditors

analytic staircase stepsBuilding a successful audit analytics program is like climbing a staircase.

The staircase is a set of steps that consist of several items having increasing levels of maturity.

The staircase steps not only help you build your program, but enable you to measure that maturity.

As you view the staircase graphic, mentally insert the word “analytics” before each step.

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5 Things We Need from ACL in 2018

5 thingsHere’s the 5 things I’m hoping will change in 2018 regarding ACL.

They are all related to each other and feed off each other…

Interesting.

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IIA Analytics Article Dead Wrong

analytics dead wrong iia tombstoneA recent IIA article on building an analytics function in internal audit is dead wrong.

At least on one major point, anyway. And it’s a big one.

As the tombstone reads, this point is D.O.A (dead on arrival, or more specifically, dead on analytics).

The article, Building a data analytics program, requires IIA membership to view, and is located at https://iaonline.theiia.org/2017/Pages/Building-a-Data-Analytics-Program.aspx (that’s actually good, as it means a lot fewer people will ever read it).

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No Analytics, No Audit Department

dead-audit-department

If YOUR audit department doesn’t embrace data, analytics, and automation eventually, your audit department will NOT exist.

No data, no analytics. No analytics, no automation. Eventually, no audit department.

Editor Note: This post really applies to all departments in a company, but mainly I’m addressing auditors, but you might want to read between the business lines….

By embrace, I don’t mean have one or two auditors working on this. I mean the entire department.

Before you cite all the regulatory requirements mandating the existence of an audit department in companies, having an audit department in name only won’t cut it.

Having an inept audit department will not be acceptable to regulators, and it shouldn’t be acceptable to company management either. Or Audit Committees!

Companies need skilled and efficient auditors that can do the heavy lifting, and this need will only increase.

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Audit Automation is NOT all Automation

audit automation ACLSome Chief Audit Executives (CAEs) and audit managers tend to think that audit automation is a set-it-and-forget-it process. NOT.

In this post, I want to expand on a problem I mentioned in an earlier post , 10 Signs Mgmt Doesn’t Really Support Analytics.

Audit management too often thinks that once a process or an audit is automated, ALL auditor/staff hours previously spent performing that process can be reassigned elsewhere.

That is not the case at all.

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No Metrics, Little Analytics

analytic metrics, numbersIf your department doesn’t track metrics on your analytics, you are probably not doing analytics or you are making little progress in analytics.

In either case, its obvious that analytics isn’t very important to your management.

Which is one of the points I made in my post, 10 Signs Mgmt Doesn’t Really Support Analytics.

So far, I have encountered very few audit departments that track meaningful metrics about their analytics.

Counting the number of projects that include analytics isn’t enough.

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CISA Does NOT an IT Auditor Make

cisa study guide, tipsPassing the CISA exam does not make you a good IT auditor anymore than passing a driving test makes you a good driver.
Passing either exam says that you know the basics, but you still have a lot to learn.

Most likely, you still don’t know how and when to use what you know and apply it to the current situation. That’s why experience is necessary. Lots of it.

I’m going on a rant here, so reader beware. If you read on, make sure you hang in there until I make my main point in the end.

You just won’t feel the love right away…

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Require Analytic Skills to Hire and Promote 

up down arrowsUnless your department is still in the early stages of your analytics journey, analytic skills should be one of your hiring and promotion criteria.

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

One of the signs is that hiring and promotion decisions are made without reference to a person’s analytic skills.

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Which Way is Analytic North?

compass analyticsTo create a successful analytics program in internal audit, you must have a plan. A plan that points to analytic North.

That requires WRITTEN goals.

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

One of the signs that indicates management isn’t really serious about analytics is that management does not require every staff member to have measurable analytic goals.

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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.

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10+ Signs Mgmt Doesn’t Really Support Analytics

mgmt doesn't support analyticsYour management says it wants more analytics, but does it really support analytics? Here’s 10+ signs that indicate that your mgmt:

  • Does NOT knows what it takes to get analytics off the ground
  • Believes that analytics multiply like rabbits, naturally
  • Is NOT willing to make the adjustments required to deliver and sustain real value.

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Auditors, Do Data Analytics or Die

If you’re an auditor, you need data analytic skills or you will die.

Or put another way, if you don’t acquire them in the next 1-5 years, you will no longer be an auditor.

Pretty bold statement, isn’t it?

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How to Review Your ACL Log

Review ACL logWhether you script your projects or use menu commands, you need to review your ACL log carefully.

Good analysts review their results and the log as they work in ACL, after they think they are done, and have others review their log before the ACL project is relied upon.

(You can’t imagine the dumb mistakes my team and I found that saved us a lot of embarrassment later.)

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Why You Should Run ACL in a Virtual Machine

virtual machineRunning the desktop version of ACL in a virtual machine* (VM) has so many advantages, but I haven’t heard anyone else doing it.

Consider the following advantages, listed in order of importance (to me):

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#1 Reason for NOT Doing Data Analytics

Do you know the #1 reason auditors don’t do data analytics (DA) much?

It is so simple, so obvious, I hesitated to blog about it. Let me know if you agree.

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Filed under ACL, Audit, Data Analytics, Scripting (ACL), Technology, Written by Skyyler

Review of ACL Excel Add-in, Now FREE!

In case you missed it, ACL released the next version of their Acerno product, renamed it ACL Excel Add-in, and made it FREE!

So I thought I’d update my review.

For my original review of Acerno, see A Review of ACL Acerno. It still seems that I’m the only one who ever took the time to review the product (versus marketing blurbs, which are all over the ‘net), which appears to be a statement regarding its popularity.

Despite the poor popularity, since they updated it AND made it free, I decided to dive in for another look.

Note: This add-in is not just for auditors! Any one who regularly reviews data should consider using this simple, EASY-to-use software.

Please take the new & improved poll at the bottom of this post (also free).

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ACL Tip: Beware of ORs and ANDs

AND ORWhenever you use OR and AND operators in ACL (or other software, for that matter), be careful to ensure that you receive the results that you are looking for.

Assume you have Table1, which contains 100 loan transactions. 10 of those transactions have a loan rate of 5% and 10 transactions have a rate of 6%. The remaining transactions have rates above 10%.

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ACL Error: Not all Fields Imported via Script

Recently, I  ran an import script to import a delimited file into ACL, but the last 10 fields were not imported. And I didn’t know it right away, because I received no error message.

In addition (or should I say, in subtraction), the log did not indicate anything was wrong. Continue reading

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You Might be an ACL Freak if…

Dream ACLYou might be an Audit Command Language (ACL) freak if more than 2 of the following are true:

  • At work, you have a second computer (or virtual machine) just for running ACL.

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Free File-Splitter Program

Splits text filesWhen I ‘m trying to work with text files that are so big I can’t even open them with programs like Excel, Notepad, or PSPad, I reach for the FREE file-splitter program.

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Great Training at the 2014 ACL Conference

If you have ever wanted to go to an ACL conference, this is the year to do it.

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Teach Yourself ACL UPDATED

If you’re trying to learn ACL on your own, Teach Yourself ACL, the widest read post on this blog, has been updated.

ACL revised their website, which broke many of the links. Those are now fixed.

Until ACL does the dirty deed again (they like to change links for some reason, without redirecting the old ones).

I also updated other items that ACL has changed since the last blog update in 2012.

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ACL: How to Add a Conditional Computed Field

In ACL, a conditional computed field (CCF), is basically a regular computed field with some fireworks.

It looks and acts much like a regular computed field, but has some extra parts that do some extra work. Fortunately, the extras are NOT complicated, and after reading this post, you will find that will you use CCFs frequently.

So what’s the difference?

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5 Things I Hate About ACL

I have 5 things I really hate about ACL. 

No, these aren’t critical issues, but I deal with them constantly, and they waste my time. All of them deal with the user interface.

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ACL Error: Cannot Export to Excel

Next time you get the cannot perform export to Excel error in ACL, try one of the 3 solutions described below.  The full text of the error is:

 Cannot perform the export.
You can export fields with maximum of 254 characters to Excel.

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ACL: How to Add Computed Fields via Script

Once you’ve mastered creating computed fields, you’re ready to add computed fields to a table via script. It is easier than it sounds.

If you need some background on computed fields, see my previous posts, What is a Computed Field? and How to Add a Computed Field (manually). Now let’s explore writing a script that adds computed fields to a table.

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ACL: Edit Scripts Easily

As soon as you create an ACL script, you often have to add to it or edit it. There’s an easy way to do it.

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ACL: How to Create Your Own Scripts

Creating scripts (and editing them) is not as hard as many of you believe them to be.

Sure, it takes practice and time to learn the basics, but YOU can do it.

If you don’t learn scripting, you are NOT using ACL to it’s fullest, nor are you making the best use of your time.

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