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DISCUSSIONS > IT AUDITING [ REFRESH ]
Thread Title: ACL vs. IDEA
Created On Thursday January 29, 2009 5:36 PM
  ACL vs. IDEA
  ACL vs. IDEA
  ACL vs. IDEA
  ACL vs. IDEA
  ACL vs. IDEA


cslobato


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Thursday January 29, 2009 5:36 PM

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For those auditors with experience using ACL or IDEA.

What do you see as the main difference? I have tested/demoed both packages and I cannot see a difference. Can anybody point me to any differences in funcionality and/or benefits.

thanks,

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clobato

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planoisdaudit


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Friday January 30, 2009 9:19 AM

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When I evaluated them several years ago, the main difference was in the equation editior. ACL uses Structured Query Language conventions when building queries. IDEA incorporated many of the Visual Basic Application components used in standard MS Excel queries into their equation editior. So, for me it came down to being more familiar with the VBA standards.

Probably the biggest thing you want to look at beyond the package is the support. Both are decent, but my understanding is that ACL has many freestanding user group forums not tied to the company. That wasn't a big deal for me, but it is for some.

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Dan
Integrity can be defined as your moral soundness. A test for integrity - Do your actions match your words?

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CharlieWalker


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Friday January 30, 2009 9:46 AM

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Functionality wise there is little difference between ACL and IDEA. The main factor is which product you feel most comfortable with, and I think ACL is a bit more expensive!

The key thing you need to consider is the training - from experience these products are often vastly underutilized if staff aren't given sufficient training, so if you're planning on purchasing for a department, ensure the cost/time for this is considered. There's no point in purchasing a load of very expensive licenses if they're not going to be used!

You may also want to consider a couple of other products, TopCAATs and ActiveData. Both of these are add-ins for Excel, and provide many of the features of IDEA/ACL. They generally have far lower training requirements due to the familiar excel interface, and are substantially cheaper.

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Charlie Walker

TopCAATs.com - TopCAATs is a complete suite of computer aided audit tools for Excel

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Porter


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Friday January 30, 2009 1:40 PM

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Functionality the two are fairly similar. ACL has advantages and disadvantages when compared to IDEA. I don't know enough about IDEA to really give an elaborate comparison, but I do see several intangible advantages that give ACL the edge:

1) ACL has a vibrant Online User Group for supported users. If you have questions, you can go online and have scores of people who are willing and eager to help you out. IDEA (and several smaller vendors) cannot compete with that.
2) ACL has a stronger foothold in local ACL user groups. Many cities around the country have ACL user groups that are there to help people learn ACL. These are grass roots organizations. IDEA has "user groups" but those are really annual meetings with people around the country.
3) It will be much easier to find people with ACL experience (and over the past few years the level of experience has skyrocketted.)
4) When/if you leave your current, ACL skills are more markettable than IDEA---relatively few places have IDEA.

The above is true for both ACL/IDEA when considering Top Catts, Active Data, or ReliantAuditor. The other advantage that both ACL/IDEA have over their smaller competitors is that both IDEA/ACL have been around for 2 decades. This means that they have seen it all. They are much more likely to have considered the unexpecte and have solutions than a recent start up.

Porter
texasacl.com

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Porter

President TexasACL User Group
www.texasacl.com
the number 1 independent site for ACL information

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GMT22


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Tuesday February 03, 2009 4:21 PM

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I have been using both IDEA for many years and ACL about 8 months. There is not much difference in what you can do with them, but rather in the way of doing things.

Compared to ACL IDEA is better in the following:

1) Importing and exporting Excel files: IDEA is much much more developed. ACL reads fields containing only numbers as numeric, and you can lose data in import. You must use ODBC drivers, but problemes remain: column widths are not the same as in the orginal Excel table, but in IDEA they are just the same!

2) IDEAScript and Excel VBA are closely related; if you can make scripts in one you have not at all high threshold to do scripts in another; when you have tools of VBA you can do scripts that you likely cannot do with ACL. E.g. in making user interfaces you have much more tools in IDEA than in ACL; IDEA's functions resemble very much those of Excel, while ACL's functions are more original.

3) General user-friendliness. IDEA is more clearly built in accordance with Windows standards, and it is easier to learn, not messy as ACL. Things that can be automated are automated in IDEA, while in ACL you have to do things with not value added. E.g. in joining files key fields in join do not need to be of same length in IDEA, while in ACL they must; you do not worry about indexing files in IDEA, while in ACL you must; in IDEA you do not need to give names to a filter and an index while in ACL you must; in IDEA you do not need to worry about rounding rules of decimals while in ACL you have to be very careful

4) Recovering files: If you delete an IDEA file, you can get it back from recycle basket (default setting), while deleting ACL files is final if you do not have backup file.

5) Importing print/pdf files. In IDEA you can easily make modifications to templates once created in import, while in ACL you need more tecnical expertise (ACL scripting language).

6) Miscellaneous: In IDEA you can have several files open in their windows, while in ACL you have only one wondows at a time - comparing data on screen between two or more ACL files is out of question; IDEA has editable fields (where to write comments or where to select values) while ACL has not; IDEA has more formats in data export; IDEA's work log is better than that of ACL, and you cannot delete it while in ACL you can - actually can be a good thing to a common auditor; ACL's look is ascetic, while in IDEA it is more finalized (also colors); IDEA has a field wrapping functionality with which you can put data of a long field on several lines.

ACL is better than IDEA in the following:

1) ACL has a community where you get help, while IDEA users are more on their own. On the other hand IDEA's help function is much more developed.

2) ACL's table relating is better than that of IDEA

3) ACL's workspace functionality has been useful sometimes


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GMT22ie24-22

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