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Internal Audit — Innovating at the Speed of Risk

Laura Paul, Global Industry Lead, Financial Services
June 24, 2020

During the global COVID-19 pandemic, internal audit executives at financial institutions have been overwhelmed by an influx of challenges, all demanding rapid response in an ever-evolving climate. Meanwhile, internal audits remain a priority, with regulators indicating that they expect the three lines of defense internal controls, risk management and compliance, and internal audit to continue operating throughout the current period of emergency measures. Internal audit departments will likely refine their focus to required regulatory audits and high-risk areas related to the COVID-19 crisis.

Complexities and Challenges Require a Structured, Yet Flexible Approach

Internal audits are complex undertakings of people, processes, and data. Audits often inherently involve a significant level of manual processes, resulting in long cycle times and other inefficiencies. To classify risks and track issues to resolution, audit teams often need to review thousands of transactions. They are frequently challenged to achieve visibility across audit phases and into specific details and insights, efficiently coordinate key steps, and swiftly escalate and resolve issues.

Moreover, while the general approach to internal audit is broadly defined, each organization has specific nuances and requirements depending on its structure, processes, systems, and more. To realize maximum resource optimization, efficiencies, and ROI, financial institutions need a flexible approach. An internal audit solution also must easily integrate with other systems. Complicating matters even more, financial institutions are sometimes constrained by inflexible COTS solutions that do not fully support their needs and are difficult to modify when business processes or requirements change.

Appian Delivers Visibility, Flexibility, Ease, and Efficiency

Appian's low-code automation platform addresses these challenges and more. Financial institutions gain the visibility necessary to scope a project, monitor the status of work papers and tasks, quickly remediate gaps in control, and future-proof their internal audit functions. Throughout, teams are able to remove complexity from processes so that business owners and IT can collaborate efficiently and easily.

Appian's internal audit application gives organizations the flexibility they need to quickly make modifications, add functionality for changing business and regulatory requirements, and fully customize the application to meet the organization's unique needs and specific requirements. It's a tool specifically designed to orchestrate people, processes, and data via full stack automation: robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), workflow, decision rules, case management, and more.

With Appian, financial institutions are able to seamlessly integrate systems (SAP, document management, business intelligence, etc.) to orchestrate processes and the inflow/outflow of data. Appian also enables dynamic reporting of audit activities, findings, follow-up actions, and KPIs, such as audits and action plans completed, resources allocated, productivity, stakeholder satisfaction, cost savings, and revenue opportunities.

Appian Supports Agile Internal Audits

To achieve greater responsiveness and flexibility, increased stakeholder involvement under a common vision, higher team engagement and productivity, and the ability to more effectively manage changing priorities and identify roadblocks, many financial institutions are moving to an agile methodology for internal audits. Agile internal audits improve alignment, for real-time rather than retrospective assurance. They also enable audit teams to work more efficiently and quickly addressing lower-value work in order to focus on more complex, higher-value tasks.

The agile approach can reduce the timeframes of regulatory audits by 20 percent (10% on less standard audits), according to PwC. Furthermore, as financial institutions continue to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, they are likely to increase their focus on agile approaches in order to respond more quickly to changing business risks and provide information to stakeholders on a real-time basis.

While Appian supports any type of internal audit methodology, it is particularly well suited to agile internal audits. Only Appian unifies all systems, channels, and customer information with the combined power of business process management, next-generation AI, and RPA in a trusted cloud platform. Appian's low-code automation platform empowers financial institutions to rapidly develop powerful, unique applications that drive digital transformation and differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace.

Visit the Appian financial services resource center to learn more.