Information systems auditors have been using computer assisted audit techniques for many decades now. Initially their tools were limited to spreadsheets and SQL on database.
However, the need to data analytics has been growing over time and shift of audit focus has been away from sample to audit of whole population.
This demand has led to development of specialized data analysis tools for auditors. These tools provide the basic functions like filters etc from simple graphical user interface. But at the same time, they have made it easier for the auditors to analyse big data.
They also provide easy access to auditors to perform comparative and deeper analysis by joing different data sources, without worrying about the underlying SQL joins etc.
4 Data Analytics Tools Every Auditor Should know
By saying that every auditor should know, we do not mean that every auditor should be expert at all these four audit tools. But we expect every CISA auditor to have sufficient proficiency in at least two of these, one being Excel.
This is especially important if the work of an IS auditor involves data analytics on a regular basis.
Excel or any other spreadsheets software like Google Sheets is the bare minimum that an IS auditor should be proficient in. Excel has its drawbacks related to efficiency, speed and documenting your work but still for individual spreadsheets, it provides the very basic analytics for an IS Auditor.
Audit Command Language software is one of the most popular audit software developed by ACL Services. It provides a powerful interface for detailed analytics by CISA auditors. Supports features like calculated field, sequence check, table joins, data from multiple sources and formats etc. Has its own scripting language.
Analyzer by Arbutus:
Arbutus is a low memory alternative to ACL and is reportedly faster. It also supports all the features that ACL has. Personally, I like it more because it is faster and it is very easy to automate your analytics because it records your steps and next time you can do the same analytics with just one click. Also you can script it to extent functions.
Interactive Data Extraction and Analysis is similar to the other two software described above. You can perform sampling, statistics, fuzzy matching an sorting etc,features that Arbutus Analyzer and ACL also support.
So as an IS auditor, if you work involves detailed data analysis then I will highly recommend that you use any of the above three specialized audit software in your day to day work. It will make your life easier because of the powerful data analytics features these tools provide.