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Study Finds 22% of Internal Audit Teams Plan to Implement Cloud-Based Audit Management or GRC Software in 2021

Study Finds 22% of Internal Audit Teams Plan to Implement Cloud-Based Audit Management or GRC Software in 2021

Cloud Technology Adoption Gap Between Internal Audit and Other Enterprise Functions to Narrow, According to AuditBoard and Internal Audit Foundation Survey

LAKE MARY, Fla. (March 25, 2021) — AuditBoard, the innovative cloud-based platform transforming how enterprises manage critical audit, risk, and compliance programs, and The Institute of Internal Auditors’ Internal Audit Foundation (IAF) today jointly announced the results of a new survey that found that internal audit’s ongoing digital transformation will rapidly accelerate in 2021, with 22% of respondents reporting that they will implement cloud-based technology this year, resulting in a majority of internal audit teams using a cloud-based audit management or GRC software solution for the first time.

“Many internal audit teams that have not yet shifted to a cloud approach are now set to reap the benefits of modernization — including gaining greater bandwidth for strategic, value-add activities — and will be better positioned to protect their organizations from new and emerging risks,” said John Reese, AuditBoard’s Chief Marketing Officer. “They'll also get to equal footing with other functions within their organization who have already made the move to cloud-based solutions.” 

Planned increases in the use of cloud software shows that internal audit departments are moving closer to the cloud technology adoption rates of other enterprise functions like IT. The top challenges internal auditors said they experienced in 2020 provide an explanation for the substantial increase in their planned adoption of new cloud technology in 2021:

  • A majority (52%) of respondents said identifying and evaluating new and emerging risks was their top challenge in 2020.
  • Forty-three percent mentioned the need to collaborate remotely with internal and external audit stakeholders.
  • Communication and follow-up with business owners was considered a top concern by 38% on internal audit respondents.

Internal auditors use audit management and GRC software to manage a wide variety of activities, from risk identification and evaluation, to the automation of administrative and repetitive tasks, which can free up teams to focus on bigger-picture items. According to the survey, the top three use cases for audit management software are: document management, issue and action plan management, and testing and work reviews.

“While automation of administrative functions offers clear and immediate benefits, internal audit is discovering the technology’s potential to drive departmental and business value,” said IIA

Chief Operating Officer William J. Michalisin, CIA. “This survey shows a positive step forward, with 22% of respondents saying they plan to implement cloud-based technology this year. As this report suggests, technology doesn’t merely complement the internal audit function, it’s crucial to more effective practices, allowing us to focus where it matters most and to elevate our value to stakeholders.”

“Internal audit teams are clearly accelerating digital transformation in 2021, a sign that the challenges of working without cloud technology over the past year have been significant,” said Reese. “As the world emerges from the pandemic, internal audit leaders are turning to contemporary audit and risk management solutions to stay on top of the dynamic risk environment, improve organizational responsiveness, and enable close coordination across their distributed workforces.”

Cloud-based technology use by internal audit teams continues to grow for two major reasons, according to the survey: the need to modernize and a requirement for fewer manual processes. In particular, modern, cloud-based platforms offer greater agility, productivity, and collaboration across distributed organizations. Survey responses echo these benefits:

  • Nearly half (45%) of internal audit professionals using manual technologies and methods agreed that their approach limited effectiveness and prevented the delivery of optimum value.
  • Thirty-one percent of internal audit functions that are already using audit management or GRC software increased their use of such software in 2020, most notably to collaborate remotely with internal and external stakeholders and avoid wasting time and resources on manual and administrative tasks.
  • Of organizations already using cloud-based technology, 46% increased their use of the technology in response to the pandemic.

Download the full report on the survey results here: Internal Audit’s Digital Transformation Imperative: Advances amid Crisis.

Methodology: In November 2020, the Internal Audit Foundation, in collaboration with AuditBoard, conducted a survey of 134 internal audit leaders — 83% of whom were Chief Audit Executives — to understand how internal audit leveraged technology to respond to the year’s challenging and fast-changing conditions, in addition to examining how technology was used prior to the pandemic. The survey was designed to gather data and provide answers to the following questions:

• How has technology helped internal audit functions adapt to rapidly changing conditions in 2020?
• Have internal audit functions accelerated, decelerated, or otherwise changed their current use or intended adoption of new technology in response to the conditions of 2020?
• What is the most effective type of technology for helping internal audit functions succeed in their response to changing conditions?