4 Replies Latest reply on Oct 25, 2016 12:10 PM by Paul Chaney

    Audit area?

    Paul Chaney

      I've been in the Internal Audit profession the past 20 years, and I'm extremely excited to be using Tableau now for visualization.  Given the obvious benefit of Tableau viz for auditors in helping identify risk quickly, is there a specific area in this community for people wanting to explore specific ways Tableau can be used to facilitate audit planning, fieldwork, reporting, continuous auditing/monitoring, etc.?





        • 1. Re: Audit area?
          Manideep Bhattacharyya

          Hello - Tableau can work on any data set, so nothing specific related to Audit. If you are looking for any specific KPIs, charts then attaching a sample data set would help Tableau gurus to answer your question better.




          • 2. Re: Audit area?
            Paul Chaney

            Thanks, Manideep.  I totally agree that sample datasets and specific questions (mostly of the technical nature) will end up providing the most value for myself and others in this community.  Of course, I will look for opportunities via tags, topics, etc. to help folks looking for solutions in this common subject area.  Many of us want to look for (or create) those specific KPIs, charts, etc. using the fun "new" tool of Tableau along with our experience/mindset developed over many years, even decades for some of us.  This makes for a powerfully valuable combination.  And I humbly speak for others in Audit when I say such collaboration on finding ways for us to work smarter and faster in the profession has been lacking.  With this great community of users, I'm sure we can have a lot of great progress toward innovation in Audit and helping organizations find useful info about risk and controls from their data.



            Again, I appreciate the reply, Manideep!


            • 3. Re: Audit area?
              Max Kjellgren



              my group is looking to integrate Tableau into our auditing and perhaps replace ACL. How have you found the tool for your audit specific work? Is there any thing that you feel it does particularly well for audit testing and do you feel that there is a gap that ACL fills in addition to Tableau?


              Would be excited to hear any other thoughts you have on leveraging Tableau for audit work. I think there is great potential but like you have found available information out there to be limited.




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              • 4. Re: Audit area?
                Paul Chaney

                Thanks for the questions and post, Max!  This is a very common question I'm asked daily, as many people want info from their data and struggle with finding the right combination of tools to do so effectively.  I'll quickly say it sounds like you're on the best line of thinking, considering the value of ACL and Tableau in your group.  There are a lot of really good tools out there, but I've found ACL and Tableau can work together very well toward creative solutions that actually add great value for the investment.  The trick is knowing what you want to do and how to use those tools (or any other tools, for that matter) effectively to accomplish your objectives.


                * How have you found the tool for your audit specific work?


                Quick answer: I've found both ACL and Tableau to have huge value with audit work in all phases...ACL with crunching data, either via ad hoc analysis or scripting...Tableau with visualization reporting that has increasingly become even more valuable for some organizations than traditional audit reports.


                I've used ACL for roughly 20 years.  ACL was a cornerstone software as I worked on audit data analytics vision and strategy for FedEx, Southwest Airlines, Walmart, and other organizations.  The tool has always been a powerful data-crunching machine, for audit-related work, compliance testing, operations/financial/IT testing, and pretty much anything you want to do (I've analyzed patterns for Texas lottery numbers, my kids texting patterns (who and when), etc.).  That said, ACL has had horrible native reporting of results.  They've gotten better recently, but still I don't recommend their off-the-shelf reporting/visualization features.  With version 12, ACL Analytics has exponentially increased its value proposition, from the new Tableau data connector (and others) to use of R, Python, SQL, etc.


                Until the past couple of years, I mostly used ACL to crunch data and Excel (through VBA scripts) to produce reporting from the raw ACL output (of course, some companies have required creative reports in HTML, SharePoint, and other methods).  Practically every one of the organizations I've worked with have had the same methodology--let ACL do the dirty work to prep huge amounts of data and then pass that output to other tools for reporting.  In the past year, I've seen a HUGE increase in my customers' interest in Tableau as their "external reporting tool" option.  I believe this is a testament to Tableau working hard to improve their software, and to the fact that the tool is relatively easy to use for non-techies, while also giving robust customization and "programming" features (I'd still like to see more on the ability to script certain things natively in the product).  There are other tools out there that can add value for audit specific work, but I find the combination of ACL and Tableau to be the best current solution for end-to-end analysis and reporting.


                * Is there any thing that you feel it does particularly well for audit testing and do you feel that there is a gap that ACL fills in addition to Tableau?


                I've probably addressed this a bit earlier, but I'll reiterate/summarize here.  Tableau's ability to quickly highlight information within data has enormous value for audit groups.  In my experience, the most effective audit teams are able to quickly test, identify, and (help the organization) remediate risk.  Certainly, we can't ignore that effective organizational support, vision, planning, business understanding, scoping, communication, etc. are also necessary; however, I would say the last item on that list may be the most important.  If we are unable to communicate effectively with the data (using our intuition and interpretation) or with others through our analysis and reporting, everything we invest in support, vision, planning, etc. is wasted.  On the other hand, effective communication of data analysis results can easily lead to true continuous auditing/monitoring, ongoing real-time risk assessment, fast root-cause analysis and trending, etc.  ACL can do all of this, but Tableau can facilitate that communication better in the end with its visualization reporting, interactive dashboards, etc.  That said, Tableau needs to get the data quickly and in a way it can best digest for reporting...that's where ACL's ability to pull in and filter large amounts of data from many different source types into a common table structure that can be read by Tableau comes in handy.


                ACL can process massive volumes of data, which Tableau is not yet built to do.  I've had ACL scripts run through billions of records comprising terabyes of data.  This is not what Tableau is good at, hence the solution I noted earlier about using ACL to crunch data and Tableau for viz.  There are ways to streamline processing of large datasets in Tableau, based on where certain filters, etc. take place, but Tableau typically chokes on a fraction of the data ACL can process.  Good news is the two tools now work together a ton better than they did before v12!


                Hope that helped, Max.  I did get your e-mail and will respond to it shortly.  Thanks for reaching out.  And again, thanks for the great questions!