KL: I think being that extension, when we say we as a team, it's not we, the RSM team and we, the client team, it's the collective we. And I think you guys hit the nail on the head, and I know we all feel this. That's not always a guarantee. And that takes time to develop those relationships and build that on trust. And we all get in a cadence of working together. But when we do that and we do it well, it's extremely, extremely powerful.
I know that, obviously, we all have different backgrounds and we've done, we work within different industries, but we've worked across a number of different co-sourcing engagements, different size of companies, some domestic, some global. And I just want to think about and how we could share with our listeners, if a company is thinking about seeking a co-source provider, what are some of those characteristics of a business partner, a co-source provider that they should really be considering? What would you maybe, hey, this should weigh more heavily in your decision, hey, this is a more nice to have? So if you were going to kind of advise somebody, how would you do that?
EM: I love advising people, so I'll go first. Number one for me is understanding. You want a provider that can really understand the business challenges of your industry, right? I mean, if you're a chief audit executive and you were one of our national leaders in industrials, if you're a chief audit executive that is navigating some of the challenges of that industry every single day with a large oil and gas company, let's say, then you want to be able to make sure that your provider has seen the same challenges and can go deep on what's going on in the industry and how we address the different risks and opportunities associated with that.
So to me, that would be number one is just really knowing that you're working with a leadership team in your co-source relationship who knows the business challenges that your company's going through and has seen it and can adapt to them.
I really, I'll hit it again, I just think the dedicated leadership of a director, chief audit executive type of person that you know is your go-to source that is trusted and has been in your shoes before, I think I would be looking for that in a co-source relationship because it's just critical to being able to feel like you have somebody on your team in that same view as you that can help navigate the demand of what a chief audit executive has to do with their C-suite-level leaders and boards and audit committees.
And then the last one I have is just depth of talent and technology skills. So whether it's international capabilities, whether it's operational supply chain technical skills, whether it's cybersecurity risk, you want to make sure that you're entering into a co-sourced relationship with a provider who's deep on talent, and then can also bring simple and smart technology into the way that we deliver and the way that we enhance what internal audit is going to do.
So that could be simple automation, building data analytics into your internal audit program, using best in practice technology advancements like large language models, AI and making our jobs of writing reports a little easier, bringing ideas and technology advancements into their relationship. That's what you're looking for in a provider, and I think critical to making sure that the co-source arrangement goes well.
AS: So I think you're spot on. I would say the first thing that comes to my mind is the ability to flex on top of what Eliot said, of course. But I think the ability to flex to what the company and the organization needs. So honestly, I feel like this is why some consultants get a bad rap is because they come in and they just throw the most advanced, fancy solution at things. And so I really feel, I mean, I have to say at RSM, I don't see that. I see our ability to understand what the client wants, and maybe we say, "Okay, down the line, here's your maturity level," and really meet them where they are.
But then at the same time, we have some really big accounts with advanced technology, advanced infrastructure that do want some of that more advanced solution. So I really value that because I think that in order to really be a part of our client's team and an extension of their team, we have to understand where they are. And I think we're good at doing that.
And then just on a more surface level, I think it's important for, say you're in the interview process for a co-source arrangement. You're across the table from a couple different firms. Something I think is important to look at is how the team interacts with one another and how is their chemistry, how are they bouncing off each other, and are you only meeting with partners or can you talk to somebody that you're going to be working with day-to-day and how valued are those folks.
And so I really value that, again, about our teams and our ability to showcase that because it's true. So I think that if I were to give advice going into an evaluation process, I would really look for that.
KL: I think everything that you guys just described is so important because a lot of this is qualitative. And it's hard, when we think about making a decision like this, there is quantitative components that have to be considered. But it's hard to put a price tag on some of these more qualitative metrics. And Anne, what you just described, observing the team, you may not get that opportunity, but it really drives the power of having that opportunity to be together before you make that investment in that relationship going forward. So I love what each of you guys just shared.
I'm going to move on to my last question. And there's a quote that I heard someone say once, and I really like it. "The quickest path between yourself and another person is a story." I myself love to learn from stories, and I think it's extremely powerful to share with our teams, with our clients, our listeners here. And it really gives people something to remember, something to consider, really something to connect with. So just thinking about each of your careers as internal auditors, what is one or two things that you are most proud of? Or do you have a memorable experience that really has stuck with you throughout your career?
AS: So overall, it's the relationships. It's the someone calling my cell phone and asking... If they call my cell phone or text me and ask me for advice on something or help with a presentation, I mean, that is what I am here for. That's why I do this job. So I think it's that informal communication after you've built a relationship and you're the person they think of to shoot a note to, that when they need something, it means the world to me. And that is what I think I'll remember long after I do this job.
One specific experience I'm going to share just because it's pretty recent. We have been working with a client for a long time, I'd say five, six years. They are in the beginning, it was a small engagement. We just did their local operations in the US from a SOCs perspective. And they've done a ton of acquisitions and we were a part of each of those with a similar team and been together with that team, not only from our side, but from their side. And we recently, after all those years of different time zones, because a lot of those acquisitions were international, we recently took this amazing trip to visit those sites and meet everyone in person that we've been on Zoom calls with three years and toured the operations. Just, it was probably a client trip of a lifetime in terms of what we were able to establish in building relationships and working onsite with those folks for a week.
The best part about it was the teams that work together, not me and the other partners and the CAE, but the actual teams that are constantly cracking up at weird times on calls over Zoom, being there at dinner together and getting to celebrate a little bit of all that hard work that's gone into building those relationships. So it was just a really neat experience with people that we have built a great relationship with.
EM: That's awesome. I'm going to make fun of myself from the consulting side of things for a second. Two things that come to mind that really get me excited in our role. This is very internal audit nerdy. But the first is when you're working in a co-source relationship, when you're going into an internal audit project with an auditee or stakeholder who could not be less interested in working on that particular project. And by the end of the project they're seeing the value you've provided and that we've created something that they didn't expect and that we're actually helping them get things that they wanted by bringing valuable recommendations upward to their leadership through internal audit. That's the coolest feeling. And had a situation like that just a week ago with a client that was really great.
The other one, in co-sourcing, again, this is a benefit of co-sourcing from my perspective, but in some client relationships that I've found really valuable, we've actually been doing work to help train individuals on the internal audit team. And an example I'm working on right now that is really rewarding is this client of ours started a co-sourcing relationship looking for us to just kind of help around certain technical audits. And we've actually built the relationship to be much more dynamic where they'd like us to help them completely work with their team to develop a data analytics program for their internal audit function and train their people on how to use analytics throughout the audit engagement.
And so we're building a tailored, structured analytics development program for them, a training program, and we're meeting with their team who couldn't be more excited about learning a...
AS: That's awesome.
EM: ... technical skill every single day.
AS: All right, we got to talk about that offline, Eliot. [inaudible].
EM: The reward on that is so cool. It's so cool. And that's the co-sourcing differentiator, right? I think if you're in a loan staff engagement, you're not even thinking that way. You're just saying, "I need hours from somebody to execute a project." If you're fully outsourced, you're not getting, there isn't anybody in the internal audit function to train. So I mean, to me, that's really cool and something that is really rewarding.
KL: I just love each of those stories. I think it really demonstrates and showcases the power of co-sourcing.
So with that, thank you. Thank you to RSM's Anne Slattery and RSM Eliot Mitchell for sharing each of your insights and your expertise on this topic that is near and dear to each of our hearts. And thank you to our listeners for joining today.