“ACL technology offers nearly unlimited opportunities to access, analyze and normalize data to deliver higher quality audit work. It’s a powerful solution that audit staff members can apply to an ever-growing list of audit activities.”
Bob Walker, Internal Audit Manager, American Automobile Association of Northern California, Nevada & Utah
American Automobile Association of Northern California, Nevada & Utah (AAA NCNU) is the secondlargest regional member of the national AAA organisation, serving more than 4.5 million members in Northern California, Nevada and Utah. Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area, AAA NCNU has 7,000 employees working in 120 offices across three states. In North America, the American Automobile Association is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying federation of 57 motor clubs that offer a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance and financial services.
The AAA NCNU internal audit department uses ACL audit analytics within a managed platform environment to analyse the insurance book of business and ensure it’s properly underwritten. The team also relies on ACL software to analyse travel and expense (T&E) purchases, procurement cards (P-cards), payroll records, and to perform a variety of other audit analyses. Moving forward, the team is working to expand its ACL use in ad-hoc audits, and to develop a continuous monitoring program for greater business assurance.
Among the 16 AAA NCNU audit managers and staff, there are several auditors who have minimal ACL knowledge, while a few team members have intermediate and even advanced ACL skills. The department engaged ACL Advantage Services to deliver a three-day, introductory training session on-site at the San Francisco AAA NCNU offices. The goal was to increase the auditors’ ACL knowledge and to encourage ACL use in everyday audit activities and data testing.
The hands-on training course taught the AAA NCNU audit team key ACL concepts and techniques. Several auditors explained that the training provided an excellent balance of technical and big-picture information, and motivated them to apply the analytics in their work. The well-planned content was delivered by an engaging instructor who quickly helped new users feel comfortable accessing and analysing corporate data.
AAA NCNU audit staff learned that ACL technology offers nearly unlimited opportunities to access, analyse and normalise data to deliver higher quality audit work. It’s a powerful solution that audit director Robert Walker has also included in employee performance plans – encouraging staff members to apply ACL analytics to an ever-growing list of audit activities.
AAA NCNU also engaged ACL Consulting Services to accelerate their results. The consultant worked on-site to implement key ACL analytics and offer tailor-made solutions. He provided constructive ideas for streamlining data access, answered questions, helped the team focus on developing technical standards, and provided timely follow-up after the implementation was complete.
With ACL, the AAA NCNU audit department is equipped to test entire data populations, instead of performing random, subjective samples. The introductory training course, in combination with the guidance offered by the ACL consultants, sparked great enthusiasm for ACL analytics and is helping the team move toward a continuous monitoring environment, with stronger risk assessments and timely, independent access to server data.
AAA NCNU auditors also revealed that ACL is changing how their department operates. With a scalable, repeatable way to identify control gaps and automate key elements of the audit practice, ACL can help increase the value of Internal Audit to the enterprise. Testing complete data populations could also eliminate pushback from auditees during exit meetings and streamline the reporting process. ACL analytics eliminate judgment-based sampling and promote a positive, proactive image of the internal audit department.
Once the auditors have a chance to test-drive their new skills, AAA NCNU managers plan to offer the next level of ACL training in order to help staff gain further proficiency with the analytics. The team is also working to create ACL-based tests that monitor how quickly and effectively audited business entities repair issues uncovered during an audit.
Thanks to a successful, cost-effective training experience and hands-on support from ACL Consulting Services, the AAA NCNU audit department is well positioned to strengthen its performance, deliver higher-quality audit work based on full data coverage, and promote a tighter control environment across the enterprise.