When did we decide in business that no need exists for effective communication? There is a constant stream of emails, voicemails, text messages, instant messages and tons of data, but there is rarely communication. It is becoming acceptable for one-way transmission of information to occur with no confirmation that the recipient has received the spirit of the message.
In our data-driven business world we have lost sight of what we are attempting to communicate. The amount of data you have analyzed is irrelevant if the business owner does not understand the importance of exceptions, the meaning of a stratified data set, or what a specific entry indicates. Information on its own has no value without context. It is our job to help ensure the recipient understands our message. This sometimes means stepping out of a comfort zone and finding new ways to create an effective message.
Consider your audience
There is no one size fits all solution to communication. Understanding who the audience is, what level of information they need, and their preferred method of communication are essential in providing a relevant message. In communication, it is definitely not all about you. If the message is going to be delivered to several different levels within the organization, then it is likely that multiple reporting formats may need to be utilized. It is not uncommon for me to prepare three to five audit reports for a specific review.
“The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through,” said Sydney J. Harris. This is an important distinction…especially to the recipient. Information is abundant in today’s business environment. The ability to access, interpret and then effectively communicate the meaning of the data is missing in today’s workplace. Accounting, business and finance graduates have learned how to gather data. We as professionals have gathered knowledge about how to digest the most information available in a timely manner. We have more access to data than at any time in history but often our management teams know less about their business. We have gotten lost in the data. We are familiar with the latest technology but have forgotten to simplify data so that others can understand and use it.
Tools to facilitate communication
One tool that I have started utilizing to help me simplify the message is ACL GRC. Governance, risk management, and compliance are important to all industries with increased government scrutiny, investor interest, and the ever-present media if something goes wrong. I found ACL GRC while looking for a risk assessment tool after having a vendor unable to meet my needs.
In the course of addressing my immediate need of pushing a risk assessment out to my organization, receiving that data back from the business owners, analyzing the responses, and then creating a risk-driven audit plan, I discovered that ACL GRC is a flexible tool that can help me more effectively communicate my message to the organization. It allows me to organize my data by creating charts, graphs or reports that deliver the message to the end user in a method that adds value for them.
Avoiding the pitfalls of commonly misused tools
One of the greatest advantages of utilizing ACL GRC is the ability for all of the data to reside in a central location. The housing of work papers from multiple auditors within a cloud-based solution allows greater flexibility and control. When data is saved to multiple hard drives, numerous shared network locations, and multiple versions, it is easy for data to get lost in the shuffle. The story that is hidden in the data can be forgotten in the hustle to get done with all of the administrative tasks. The ability to centralize findings in ACL GRC and automate remediation follow-up of prior audit findings enables the ability to focus on adding value through the identification and correction of errors or control weaknesses.
Repetitive administrative tasks have become an acceptable part of the analysis and reporting process. Using the right tools can help you accomplish this task without increasing your workload. It is a matter of re-balancing what you are already doing.
One small step for communication, one giant leap for understanding…
Please don’t get me wrong, the data and its integrity is still critical. I think there can be an effective blending of information and communication. “Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life,” – Brian Tracy.
It is a matter of considering the message you are trying to send. Make that message clear. The data will then solidify that message through demonstrating how you arrived at your opinion. Simplifying the message creates a win-win for all participants.
(Source: ACL Blog)