Financial Management Company Updates Audit Processes
It was a huge undertaking: retooling a financial management company’s entire technology platform without affecting day-to-day operations.
With new engagements coming in as quickly as one per hour and years of business success with no downtime, the financial management firm had little time to step back and review their technology needs. As a result, they were still using Lotus Notes as the underlying basis for their auditing work. While their expertise in financial management was second to none, they knew they needed a technology vision and expert implementer to help them become efficient and even more competitive in the marketplace.
Initially, they thought putting the system on a new technology platform would do the trick. But as they dug deeper, they realized they would not be able to attract and retain millennial workers without giving them a modern technology experience. Leadership decided to remedy the situation by reimagining their needs for the future. After a rigorous selection process, the firm chose SPR as their partner in the project.
BUILT FOR HOW AUDITS SHOULD BE PERFORMED
SPR began their discovery process by talking to leadership and end-users about how they performed audits as well as what systems and processes they used. They discovered that auditors were often just following the path of previous audits and consulting an accumulated set of notes for guidance.
SPR began holding workshops with a large number of stakeholders to get specifics on how they work and what they would like to see in the finished system. Not being auditors themselves, the SPR facilitators translated what they heard into processes that made sense to their end users – and the production team remained in constant touch with end users to be sure the system they designed would intuitively work for them. This interaction was so successful that SPR was tasked with helping the client update their business processes as well as their platform.
KEEP IT SIMPLE, MAKE IT EASY TO USE
SPR set out to design a system that would seem familiar. Most auditors worked in Microsoft Word and Excel; so SPR designed the new system to download numbers into Excel spreadsheets and build reports in Word.
Using SharePoint, the new custom software system used Microsoft features that auditors already knew how to use, reducing training time and increasing ease of use. The customized web interface became a narrative the user could follow on how to perform an audit efficiently and effectively. It could also be updated and scaled easily as rules and requirements changed.
BUILD FOR NOW AND FOR THE FUTURE
SPR used an iterative development approach that included prototyping, multiple releases, and reviews by stakeholders to ensure that the project remained flexible and current. While the client was eager to move into the future, it was agreed that they were not ready to go to the cloud. Leveraging Microsoft Add-ins, SPR positioned the system so it would not require a rewrite when the time came in the next five years to move into the cloud.
SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH, POSITIVE RESULTS
The response to the new system was overwhelmingly positive: leadership could see the culture change happening, the training in place was good, and even the partners were more engaged with the new system. The client saw many benefits from the work SPR completed updating their platform and processes, including:
- A 10-20% projected efficiency improvement in the first year, even taking into account the learning curve. In fact, the client reduced audit work by 20-30% per audit.
- Clearer roles and processes. There were also clearer hand-offs between audit team members, and fewer issues with regulatory compliance due to better paperwork and audit trails.
- Greater consistency. By instituting business processes that followed best practices, there was greater consistency between projects.
- Better recruiting success. Finally, the firm was much better positioned to recruit new talent on campuses and implement a more streamlined new hire onboarding process.
SPR has proudly developed a system to make a financial management firm’s audits much more efficient and profitable.