In the digital age of the twenty-first century, auditors cannot afford to ignore the opportunities created by digitisation and other technological developments. Management increasingly needs real-time assurance, which cannot be provided with traditional audit techniques due to limitations in terms of labour costs and lead time. This despite the fact that management is effectively the client for which the Internal Audit Function (IAF) performs its work. Hence, there is an urgent need for (some type of ‘real time, data-driven assurance’ (Chan & Vasarhelyi, 2011). At the same time, the technological options available create ever better conditions for performing data-driven audits, which will transform the audit landscape in the coming years (De Boer, Eimers & Elsas, 2014).
Almost all IAFs in the Netherlands have specified in their in mission statement, charter or work plan that analytics is to be used to better equip the audit function, facilitate more factbased reporting, and generate insights that are of practical use to management.
In practice, the use of analytics is often supported by (external) experts and advanced tools. It appears that many (smaller) IAFs as yet do not sufficiently utilise analytics and struggle to achieve their envisaged steps and plans for the use of analytics. Analytics is often regarded as a complex topic and the available knowledge is often limited, as are the options to deploy experts and advanced tools.
That leads to the question how and to what extent the practical experiences and Insights gained by more experienced IAFs can be translated into practical applications that can also be used by other IAFs.