Are you tired of seeing the costs of audit and compliance activities increasing? What if I told you that more frequent compliance audits and perpetual evidence collection actually reduce the cost of compliance?
A study performed by Ponemon Institute1 demonstrates that organizations conducting five or more internal compliance audits per year have the lowest total compliance costs. Conversely, the highest total compliance costs in this study pertain to organizations that conduct just one or two internal compliance audits per year.
Do more frequent audits and continuous evidence collection sound like a lot more work? It’s actually not! Let’s explore the numerous benefits of continuous evidence collection.
Reactive vs. Proactive Approaches
In today’s increasingly regulated landscape, it is more important than ever to stay compliant. With traditional auditing practices, many organizations rely on an external auditor’s request list to begin gathering the necessary documentation. In this case, your evidence collection cycle is based on the timing and frequency of the audit itself and is reactive in nature. Once you’ve collected the evidence, you more than likely don’t look at it again for another year.
Alternatively, with continuous evidence collection, you take a more systematic and proactive approach by perpetually gathering the documentation required to satisfy the control requirements. Continuous evidence collection can be part of your overall continuous auditing process or simply feed into more frequent audits.
When you approach compliance proactively, you’re able to2:
- Continually gather evidence that supports auditing activities and identify non-conformities in a more timely manner
- Shift from cyclical reviews with limited focus to continuous, broader assessments to achieve greater oversight of your controls
- Evolve from a traditional, static annual audit plan to a more dynamic plan based on continuous auditing results
- Reduce overall audit costs while increasing effectiveness through IT solutions
When evaluating which controls to continuously collect evidence and assess, ISACA 3 suggests that the frequency of analysis should be determined by the level of risk, the business process cycle and the degree to which management is monitoring the controls. Automation should also be a consideration when determining which controls to continually assess. Where possible, automate the evidence collection to give time back to your team and reduce the impact to stakeholders.
Value-Added Evidence Collection
Increased Accuracy and Reliability With Greater Testing Coverage
Besides being more proactive, time and cost effective, how else can continuous evidence collection benefit your organization? As noted earlier, you have broader reviews with greater coverage by testing an entire population rather than a sample. This means that your test results are more accurate, increasing the reliability of the audit and ultimately your team’s credibility.
Real-time Issue Identification
Have you ever discovered a finding right before needing to provide that evidence to your external auditor? Believe me when I say that I have experienced this cringe-worthy moment in a prior job, and it’s not a moment that I wish to re-live. But, with continuous evidence collection, you can uncover issues faster or even in real-time if the collection is automated. Now you can plan remediation efforts well in advance of external audit cycles. So relax and trust the continuous collection process! Go boldly and confidently into your next leadership meeting, armed with the knowledge gathered from your perpetual compliance efforts.
Fewer External Audit Findings
Since you’ll have more lead time to remediate issues, this results in easier audit preparation, fewer external audit findings, and therefore happier team members and leaders! Spend less time responding to external audit findings and more time on strategic risk management activities. And while you’re at it, go outside and take a walk! Stop eating lunch at your desk during “audit crunch times” and enjoy a team lunch outing instead. There are so many ways to enjoy your new-found freedom!
How the Reciprocity ROAR Platform Can Help
With the Reciprocity ROAR Platform, you get built-in evidence request templates and automated evidence collections from integrations. We take the guesswork out of what to collect and how to collect it. You simply tell us what frameworks and requirements are in scope for your organization, and we do the heavy lifting for you! So, what are you waiting for? Don’t wait for the next audit, sign up for a free demo to see how ROAR can help you today!