First Impressions from the 2018 GAM Conference

After three days filled with auditors, firms, software vendors and everything in between,  the 2018 GAM was a special blend of thought leaders from around the globe.  Some of the brightest minds in the industry were on hand to provide insight and perspective on all things audit – with a few areas sticking out to all of those in attendance.

AI – Artificial Intelligence/Robotics

For the second time in as many years, Artificial Intelligence was a topic impossible to avoid – much like its expected impact on the industry’s future.  While many speakers touched on the impact it has had in test environments and early adopters, a common trend was something that wasn’t immediately expected – fear!  Most attendees are auditors themselves, or lead audit teams in a Chief/Director of Audit role.  The implementation of AI and Robotic systems will ultimately lead to the decrease in demand for audit work hours, and surely, auditors themselves.  As the thought of audit team size shrinking in coming years looking like a sure thing, a few speakers provided some comfort and reassurance to those in attendance.

In short, automated systems like AI and Robotics are going to be great for taking repetitive, manual tasks out of human hands.  However, these systems will need to be observed and checked for accuracy a LOT early on.  Furthermore, the systems themselves are a source for additional auditing needs – creating additional work for perhaps smaller audit teams in the future.  Finally, a few of the Chief Audit Officers in attendance are expecting that, while the repetitive parts of the audit team jobs may move to automated systems, their newly found “free time” won’t necessarily translate to job loss or going home early!  In face, these executives plan to challenge their teams to spend their newly freed up time into areas that are maybe not investigated as thoroughly as they should be – providing a more complete audit of the business, aided in part by AI.

Analytics

Another hot trend continues to be the need for analytics, and finding the appropriate ways to use graphical representations of data.  As more and more companies seek software packages to provide documentation sharing, workflow and reporting capabilities, the visual representation of this data becomes even more critical.  Executive teams don’t wish to look through numbers and decipher data – instead, graphics provide a high level overview of the audit and quickly show where gaps may be, tests have failed, or any other arrangement of data.

Agile – EVERYONE Needs to be!

On more than one occasion, attendees pointed out that their small audit team was “too small to be agile”, and could invest time/effort into becoming more agile.   This is exactly the reason why you’d want to be more agile!  Small audit teams particularly don’t have the luxury of moving work from one group to another.  In fact, many auditors work long hours and are overworked during “crunch time”.  Investing time in automating as many processes as possible and improving communication will greatly improve agility and reduce the overload of work that many teams feel.

Stay tuned for more information from the 2018 General Audit Management Conference, trends, analysis, and what we can look forward to next year!

How many spreadsheets are you trying to manage for ASC 606?

RGP is hearing from Public and Private companies who are working to get a handle on their Revenue Recognition compliance efforts. As with many new initiatives, most of those tasked with the responsibility of rolling out a contract review process began with authoring the process in Excel. This particular process, more than some, requires a number of people with varying technical skills and technical accounting expertise to work through a long checklist or multiple spreadsheets full of questions and considerations. And, like many others, these teams are racked with frustration over the common ills of spreadsheet-based processes:

  • Almost as soon as the tool is put to use, the version is out of date and the data does not reconcile with other versions.
  • It is difficult to track and understand which version is the latest or the “best”.
  • Often, spreadsheets are not properly secured and suffer unintended changes.
  • Changes to data attributes in the spreadsheets can have significant impact on conclusions.
  • Sharing and communicating lessons and conclusions is a massive and disjointed effort.
  • It is difficult to roll-up the results from multiple spreadsheets for analysis and reporting to management and auditors.
  • If multiple people must work in and make adjustments to the spreadsheet, it can be remarkably challenging to trace the changes back to the appropriate party.
  • It is virtually impossible to dictate order of responsibilities and to consistently communicate and enforce an approval process.

RGP has a few remedies that can help you to treat or avoid these ills.

Private Companies –  RGP has a proven Revenue Recognition solution that can help companies from your early assessment through planning how you will fill gaps in policies and systems and can aid your team with the implementation of agreed upon solutions, controls, policies and associate training and communication.

Public Companies – Those who worked to tackle ASC 606 compliance on your own in year one can certainly still call on us to evaluate your program and to identify and guide you to address and close gaps.

All Companies can take advantage of RGP’s proprietary tool, policyIQ, to remedy the ills associated with spreadsheet based processes. Companies have the option of

  1. leveraging the flexible and configurable policyIQ to automate your own checklist or questionnaire or
  2. you can adopt the RGP solution with pre-built templates that guide the reviewers through the contract review process.

In either case, you can put your spreadsheet worries to rest and bring centralized access, version control, workflow, reporting for analysis and management review to your Revenue Recognition program.

Contact us to learn more about our technical accounting expertise, project support, and proprietary technology: support@policyIQ.com.