Why and how should a company automate controls?
The reasons to automate controls processes will logically depend on the company’s context and security challenges. Fighting against fraud is one of the main reasons for organizations to implement controls automation today. But it isn’t the only one. Here are a few of them:
- Focusing on fraud risks
The goal here is to reduce fraud risks, often over large data volumes. The stakes are to gain full visibility over fraud risks, segregation of duties policy implementation but also to ensure that controls are properly operated and cover all the critical applications and business processes for which fraud risks are very high.
- Targeting sensitive business processes
For some companies, the prime focus needs to be set on preventing risks at a business process level for their most sensitive ones, such as the Purchase-to-Pay business process. Security risks, such as fraud risks, are often significant at the business process level – within and between applications and systems – but companies often focus only on risks linked to IT infrastructures and fraud risks within applications only.
- Improving data analysis
The goal here is to implement efficiently and broadly a proper data governance through automated controls. Controls over applications are a priority in this context and need to comply to security requirements such as proper privileged accounts management and efficient access rights governance.
What are the benefits?
Controls automation can provide many benefits, here are the main ones:
- Optimizing controls processes, strongly needed by companies as they face rising regulatory requirements and pressure from control and compliance authorities.
- Reducing security risks within applications and at a business process level
Automating controls enables internal audit and control teams to save significant time, money and energy not using Excel spreadsheets with over fifty tabs to operate manually their controls. With controls automation, they can focus on the most critical security and compliance stakes and risks that truly need their time and attention.
Are there limits to controls automation and how can you move past them?
Automating controls at the scale of an application, system or a whole business process requires paying special attention to a number of topics in order for a company to prevent limitations and evaluate if it is ready to implement the automation of all or part of its controls processes.
Here are a few of the topics you should pay attention to:
- Your applications’ maturity
Automating controls properly depends on your applications having the same “maturity” level.
- Risks moving upstream or downstream
By automating controls, there is a risk that security issues be displaced. An example of risks moving “downstream” is an inefficient analysis and correction of discrepancies.
- Automated controls staying relevant and answering internal audit’s needs over time
- Segregation of duties
One of the keys to controls automation is implementing a proper segregation of duties at a business process level, within and between applications and processes in the IT systems.