“There is no way we could have been as successful assessing risk and detecting fraud without using ACL.”
Alan Nixon, Staff VP and General Auditor, Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group
With a thriving business and operations around the world, Dollar Thrifty was eager to move beyond random sampling and gain full coverage of its 500,000 monthly transactions. The continuous auditing function, led by Manager Gary Armstrong, chose the ACL solution to assess risk and detect fraud – especially in the area of retail transactions. The results were quick and dramatic. Using ACL to automate their tests, Dollar Thrifty has already saved over 10,000 hours of manual staff labor, reduced commission expense by £463,000 annually, and pinpointed cases of fraud. Starting in a few key areas, the organisation immediately realised significant cost savings and is now expanding its use into additional testing areas and internal departments.
After researching other solutions and consulting numerous trade publications, Dollar Thrifty chose ACL in 2004 for its power and simplicity. was also the solution of choice for the company’s external auditors. “If you want the best product and people,” says Armstrong. “Buy ACL.”
Charged with developing a continuous auditing environment for Dollar Thrifty, Armstrong and his team initially built five ACL analytics. Today, they have over 30 fully automated analytics – which the team refers to as “living analytics” – to monitor payroll, retail transactions, uncover fraudulent activities and ensure compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. These analytics monitor for changes in the process or data and notify the team when changes to the scripts may be needed to accommodate a business requirement change.
Payroll analysis include 35 specific tests for each and every employee cheque. The audit team is currently working on another 15 tests, which will bring the total up to 50. Sales agents receive incentives for selected sales, so it’s critical for Dollar Thrifty to monitor the retail environment for compliance with corporate policy and fraud. Conducting these investigations manually would be impossible; however, with ACL Dollar Thrifty can quickly identify non-compliant or suspicious activities and mitigate risk with much broader coverage.
The Dollar Thrifty team is always looking for new ways to automate its audit activities. This commitment to automation is not surprising, given that the company has saved at least 10,000 hours of staff labour with continuous auditing. According to Armstrong, “has been the catalyst for everything…. there is no way we could have been as successful without using ACL.” Data analysis that used to take a full week can now be completed in five minutes. With ACL, Dollar Thrifty saves £463,000 annually in commission expense. The analytics developed in this area have proved to be an excellent tool for detecting non-compliant and fraudulent transactions but have also served as a valuable preventive tool. “If you know each and every transaction is reviewed for compliance and fraud, you are less likely to cross the line,” says Armstrong.
The shift to continuous auditing means the audit team can cover areas that previously went untouched. Once a new process is automated, staff can move on to other areas and apply a rule of thumb that the average analysis can be fully automated with four to five additional hours of work. This approach has given the company a better understanding of its security risks and enabled management to close critical control gaps. In fact, if other departments are unable to effectively analyse data, the management team asks them to seek Audit’s input on whether ACL is a possible solution.
Dollar Thrifty is an active participant in ACL training and consulting services. “We utilised both training and consulting services in the infancy of the continuous auditing function and continue to utilise live and on-line training. The consulting services really jump started our success; we were able to see very early the power and possibilities provided by the ACL scripting functionality.”
Moving forward, the continuous auditing team aims to extend its ACL investigations into accounts payable, travel and entertainment expenses, fleet reconciliations, system logs, segregation of duties, financial reporting and additional analytics for retail transactions.
The company’s internal Risk Management group is in the process of implementing ACL’s Server Edition and the Sales and Marketing group is anticipating utilising ACL. Both groups need faster access to data from multiple sources, with increased security and the ability to automate standard analytics. With these capabilities, the groups anticipate being able to respond to issues faster, while taking advantage of opportunities.
ACL has enabled Dollar Thrifty to develop a tighter audit environment and cover hundreds of thousands of transactions in mere minutes. According to Armstrong, the Dollar Thrifty audit team will continue to develop strategic tests, conduct process improvement initiatives across the organisation, automate several more manual processes, and produce a more accurate and timely risk analysis.