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Data analytics as an audit tool – advantages and some experiences

Data analysis as used by internal auditors is the process of identifying, gathering, validating, analyzing, and interpreting various forms of data and some key benefits are:

Achieve a very high level of assurance – Because most data are system based, all transactions can be tested in very short time. Obtaining assurance on the entire population, rather than on a sample produces a very high-quality audit evidence.

Gain insight – It is very difficult to derive insight from looking at raw tabular data, but very easy to see trends and correlations when the data is transformed into a graphical format.

Increased efficiency – Data connections and graphical representation can be reused, opening the way for frequent risk monitoring and/ or continuous auditing.

Some words of experience from beginner to regular user of data analytics

  • Establish which analytic test you want to “run” or define what you would like to know. Also don’t limit yourself to what you think is possible to know from the data. Often, there will be a way to obtain the answers you need, visualize trends, or obtain valuable insight.
  • If you need to do it by your own – Find out which data analysis tool you will likely use and be familiar with it though experience and learning. Although the principles in data analysis are similar and can be used across systems, there is specific forums, tutorials, and dedicated learning for different tools (for example, for standard commercial ones such as MS Excel, Tableau or PowerBI or audit oriented, such as ACl or CaseWare). Start small and expand as your familiarity increases and double check the data results with an experience process.
  • If you have access to data analytic experts and/or data scientists – Work with experts to quickly gain access to the data and to set up the analysis and report, you need. However, be involved in the process of selecting the origin of the data and how it is set up for analysis and reporting to ensure that there is no other pre-processing or filtering which will affect the results.

Possible resources

Discussion Forum and Network help

IIA Norge has a dedicated forum to data analysis and AI in Linkedin:

IIA guidance 

IIA GTAG – Data Analysis Technologies –

IIA Data analytics journey for internal auditors –