Assurance
Automation

Tackle the complexities of audit, risk and assurance by shifting your attention to where it matters most.

Assurance automation is the use of technology to enable assurance, risk and advisory practices to digitize, streamline and automate audit and control process.

Why is Assurance Automation Important?

Even with a quality team of consultants, the human brain isn’t designed to handle the breadth and scale of control activities we see in each assurance engagement. Assurance automation empowers consultants to ensure nothing is missed, incorrectly assessed, or lost in communication. It is also about doing more with less; and given people are an expensive and limited resource, doing more translates to leveraging process and technology.

Factors and challenges driving automation include:

1. Reduction in budgets and headcount;
2. Corporate strategy to digitise manual processes;
3. Increasing volumes of risk, audit and assurance work as the regulatory environment becomes more complex; and
4. The desire to create new revenue opportunities and a competitive advantage through automation.

The challenge for auditors of business control practices, like in SOC 1 and SOC 2 audits, is really understanding the business, knowing what to look for, and relating that to the relevant audit criteria. That’s compounded when there are multiple standards, multiple people involved, and auditors working across many clients. Even more so when it’s managed by emails, spreadsheets, and meetings over an extended period of time. It all leads to a mess of confusion, rework, and degraded audit quality.

The Case for Assurance Automation

The way to tackle this challenge head-on is to empower the client to map their control practices in a comprehensive, accurate, and auditor-friendly format. Through the Checkbox platform’s expert automation, audit firms can codify the control activities with a client guided assessment approach to identify what controls they have, and how they are applied in practice including the frequency, manual vs. automated, and various methods to achieve control objectives like the broad security practices for data loss prevention, for example.

assurance automation areas

The Checkbox team has applied this approach for SOC 1 and SOC 2, whilst also mapping to other more prescribed standards like GDPR, PCI-DSS, ISO 27001, CCPA, and the CDR requirements for Open Banking. The benefit for the business is effective management of their control practices, and where applicable addressing multiple requirements without duplication. But the audit firms are the real winners, being able to onboard clients with a clear view of the controls to audit, what documentation to look for, how those controls address the objectives, and even draft testing procedures and audit documentation. It empowers audit consultants to spend more time following a risk-based review approach, building effective relationships, and feeding back valuable insights to continually improve the risk and control practices.

At Checkbox, we’ve come across a number of common categories of use-cases for automation in the audit, assurance and risk advisory:

1. Information intake and triage
Create services and processes that allow both self-service and a standardised, automated triage of data and documentation

2. Approval workflow
Digitise and facilitate approvals for process execution, review, workflow and approvals

3. Weighted risk assessments
Automate and configure multi-factor risk assessments and controls areas

4. Self-serve FAQ advice
Enable self-service to common, low complexity assurance obligations and related company control policies

5. Automated Outputs
Generate standard documents and data outputs for reporting purposes and audit outcomes etc.

Benefits of Assurance Automation

Expert automation helps professional service auditors to navigate these complex and onerous requirements. It provides clarity to independent consultants and auditors to streamline the assessment and audit process to achieve higher audit quality and confidence in the report. It delivers higher quality outputs and new revenue stream opportunities.

For more information on the benefits of assurance automation you can download the White Paper (Leveraging Technology for Risk, Assurance and Advisory Practices and SOC2 video case study video) by clicking the button below.

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