This is the third of 3 posts; this post describes how I audited the auditors and my perspective on the whole thing.
Read the first post (background) and the second post (audit results).
This is the second of 3 posts; this post describes the audit, some speed bumps, and the audit results.
Read the first post here, which provides the background on the audit and the audit’s scope.
Usually, I’m the one doing the auditing, but this time, I (Mack) was the one who was audited.
It was a great experience for me.
Well, sort of. No one likes being audited (ahem). But it gave me a fresh perspective of how others feel when I audit them.
This is the first of 3 posts; this post contains some background info on the project that was audited, and the second one discusses the audit and the results, and in the third post, I describe my perspective on the whole thing, and some takeaways.
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!
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.
Contrary to what ACL has been touting as their new ‘robotics’ feature, it is NOT robotics process automation (RPA).
[The ‘robotics’ feature is due out later in 2018. It appears to be ACL’s latest attempt to get you to use their GRC software.]
ACL, via John Verver, defines the term this way in his RPA article: “The idea is a relatively simple one: get computers to perform tasks normally performed by humans, and cut resource and time requirements for many repetitive activities.”
When you need to rename ACL tables, be careful to also rename the associated .fil file also.
Otherwise, you (or your ACL script) might get confused. You might delete the wrong table or .fil file, and create a head-scratching problem.
I know because I confused myself.
Here’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…
If you’ve ever wondered what Audit Command Language (ACL) is, here’s a quick way to find out.
ACL has provided a quick, one-page introduction to ACL. And I mean quick.
It doesn’t explain a lot, but it gives you a quick peek at the basic user interface.
You could call it the ACL Overview for Dummies.
Some 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.
Previously I wrote Will Robotics (RPA) Replace ACL?
The short answer is no, and I describe the reasons in that post.
But that doesn’t mean someone won’t try.
Shortly after I wrote my original robotics post, I encountered robotics vs. ACL, part 2.
In my last post, I described Why Internal Auditors Should Care about Robotic Process Automation.
In this post, I’ll explore whether RPA can replace analytic packages like ACL, IDEA, R, and Power BI.
That might seem like a strange question, but a few managers and a VP have asked me just that recently. Here’s how I’ve answered it.
Since some of you are newer to the blog, I thought I’d bring a couple of my favorite posts to your attention.
Today I was adding a new table to a scripted ACL project and kept getting an error.
This project automatically opens a folder on the LAN, reads the files in the folder, and loads all of them.
All I did was add one more file to the folder. ACL refused to load that one file.
Whether 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.)
Running 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):
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.
Here’s a way to automate the download of data from Active Directory (AD), specifically group members, into ACL using adfind and the ACL Execute command.
I’ll walk you through it step-by-step.
Even if you don’t use ACL, you might gain a better understanding of AD and LDAP in general….
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).
Whenever 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%.
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
You 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.
If you have ever wanted to go to an ACL conference, this is the year to do it.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have you been following the “Optimizing Script Performance” series on the ACL Blog? aclkevin has been offering some great tips.
In case you missed them: