“ACL technology is our primary tool for data analysis activities. It is also a critical foundation for our business planning work. When our staff plan audits, we specifically ask how they will use ACL to make the project more efficient and gain a deeper, more widespread understanding of our company data and business systems.”
David Johnson, Senior Audit Manager, Deseret Management Corporation
Deseret Management Corporation, a holding company for eight diverse subsidiaries, uses ACL’s innovative audit analysis solutions to help its external audit team gain seamless access to a wide variety of computer platforms and company data; perform continuous monitoring activities; analyse business operations for better resource allocation; and target data variances and controls assurance issues. With ACL, Deseret Management has a powerful solution to monitor its diverse business interests and continue its commercial successes.
Deseret Management Corporation (DMC), organised in 1966, is a holding company that oversees eight subsidiary companies. Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, DMC provides financial, tax, budgeting, treasury, cash management, information technology, accounting, and auditing services to its subsidiaries.
DMC’s subsidiaries have a wide range of business interests and holdings. Each company uses a variety of data management systems and platforms, which created considerable challenges for the DMC audit staff.
“We were bottlenecked and faced challenges gaining access to the various databases within our systems,” explains DMC Senior Auditor Steven K. Johnson. “We had to coordinate with several different IT systems and assure each department that data security wouldn’t be compromised by our gaining better access to their information.”
With only 16 financial and operational professionals to audit and consult with the subsidiary companies, the DMC auditing department management often found their resources stretched thin. These time and staffing pressures meant that the DMC team couldn’t gain its desired data analysis coverage, and relied on sampling to conduct business assurance practices. In 1999, DMC Audit Director Ivan Briggs started the search for a tool to help his department easily and effectively analyse and test a diverse array of business information.
After evaluating a number of products, DMC chose ACL’s software as the tool to analyse data drawn from multiple platforms and to handle large data files. It’s critical for DMC to have a direct connection to subsidiary information systems and access to complete data files. “With ACL, we can perform all of our data analysis using ODBC access without any requests to the IT department of each individual company,” explains Johnson. “ACL allows us to perform continuous monitoring and get direct access to the data we need.”
As DMC works to produce maximum results with minimum resources, ACL is enabling the audit team to create and track Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for each subsidiary company. With ACL, staff is beginning to continuously monitor these KPIs and analyse the data to make resource and time allocation decisions. The results have been extremely valuable.
DMC Senior Auditor Michael Schaff led one subsidiary’s audit team to create a financial statement variance analysis routine that consolidated nine weeks of data input, analysis, and spreadsheet generation into a 40-minute process. The ACL script also allowed the analysis to be done on a frequent basis, making critical information available faster to DMC management. Across the board, ACL technology has allowed DMC auditors to write and share analysis scripts that are valuable to all the subsidiary companies – freeing up time and resources to focus on data anomalies and business enhancement opportunities.
ACL audit analytics has also given DMC 100 percent testing and monitoring capabilities, rather than simply sampling data for business controls assurance.
“We have broader and deeper coverage with ACL,” says David Johnson, Senior Audit Manager. “We’re able to work much more efficiently and analyse a broad spectrum of data, rather than just performing sample audits.”
Finally, ACL audit analytics has given DMC the power to access and analyse files of any size. Recently, when DMC’s Finance division was organising an economic impact analysis, they needed to analyse extremely large amounts of data in a very limited time period. With ACL, DMC audit staff analysed and reported required information from all the files in just two days. “It was amazing to the Finance department that we could selectively pull, organise, and analyse such a large amount of data in such a short period of time,” says DMC Audit Supervisor Clint Halverson.
DMC relies on ACL’s audit analysis solutions to: