RSM is transforming audits of the future with data analytics

Mar 01, 2021
Audit Innovation

Novel ideas and slicing pies

In The Pale King, David Foster Wallace’s novel about tax and audit (yes, such a novel exists), a professor expounds on the bright future of accounting (yes, such a scene occurs). “In today’s world,” he writes, “…most significant facts have been generated. The heroic frontier now lies in the ordering and deployment of those facts. Classification, organization, presentation. To put it another way, the pie has been made—the contest is now in the slicing.”

Wallace foresaw a future where data analytics is fully integrated into the audit, revolutionizing the process. That future is now. At RSM, we are exploring that heroic frontier and finding new ways to slice up that sweet pie of information using the latest innovations in data analytics.

Writing the future of audit

As RSM writes the future of audit, the heroes of the story are our clients. RSM’s role as their first-choice advisor is delivering clarity and insights so that they are successful. We are doing this better than ever by introducing data analytics and automation to our audit protocols to:

  • Enhance audit quality
  • Boost efficiency
  • Strengthen risk assessment
  • Deliver new insights

Reading between the lines

RSM also wants to utilize new analytics to reveal previously obscure connections in the data. This will help identify new insights and mitigate risks more quickly and with more accuracy than ever before.

“Our goal for the future of our audit practice is to build a leading-edge data analytics capability and, through our new center of excellence, enhance our ability to deploy emerging technologies to boost the efficiency and quality of our audits. Doing so will improve our ability to serve our clients in new ways maximizing our value to them as trusted advisors,” said Scott Wilson, audit innovation leader.

New characters in RSM audits

Powerful tools

In winter and spring 2021, RSM engagement teams continue to pilot sophisticated data analytics platforms to enhance our audits. One of these technologies is a cloud-based platform increasingly gaining prominence within the audit and accounting sector. Its workflow, data ingestion and data analytics software revolutionized the efficiency, quality and value of audit work for our clients. Of critical importance are the automated procedures that we can develop to expedite tasks across the planning, fieldwork and reporting activities within our audit methodology.

Most recently, RSM innovators began drafting ways we may incorporate Alteryx into our audits. Alteryx is a business intelligence analytics platform. It is a data processing engine primarily used for analytic process automation (APA)—building repeatable workflows that automate data extraction, data processing and generating a standard output.

In the hands of RSM auditors, Alteryx will enable teams to dig into high volumes of data when they need to complete deep analyses like reconciliation, anomaly detection, trend analysis and forecasting. The possible customizations of workflows our analysts can build are nearly limitless. That allows us to tailor our data analytics models to the diverse needs of our clients. Then, once those specific workflows are in place, it’s automated to repeat every period, increasing our efficiency while expanding the breadth and nuance of insights in every audit.

Each data analytics tool RSM uses translates our deliverables into easy-to-understand visuals. These visuals equip our auditors with insights and facts about the engagement and client with a swiftness, accuracy and acuity previously unthinkable.

Audit Data Analytics Center of Excellence

In 2020, RSM established the Audit Data Analytics Center of Excellence (COE). “The vision is to create a highly skilled centralized team to transform the execution of our audit in the way we use existing data analytics audit tools,” said Susan Roeder, Audit Data Analytics COE leader. “Our mission is to improve the audit quality results by increasing the use of data analytics scripting to isolate audit risk, test transactions and reduce further audit procedures typically performed by our audit teams.”

The next volume

RSM is evolving our audit practice with data analytics, but that’s only one chapter. Along with robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and even augmented reality, we are writing the future of audit today. With RSM as your first-choice advisor, our audits will deliver the information you require with leading-edge technology.