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Three Things We Learned from the IIA GRC Virtual Conference

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September 30, 2020

It’s conference season! The smell of mediocre coffee and cookies and hotels should be in the air. But, alas, COVID-19 has shifted conferences to a virtual setting.

So, from the comfort of our own homes, sweatpants, and fuzzy bunny slippers, members of the Workiva team attended the recent IIA GRC Conference 2020 and took meticulous notes to pass along.

Read on to see our top three topics covered at the event, or listen to the recent episode of Off the Books to get the full scoop.

1. Get ready to embrace new technologies

With the switch to working from home due to COVID-19, more companies are open to introducing new technologies into their workflow—even if it was forced by circumstances. (Shout out to you, IIA, for showing us a silver lining to the situation.)

Our experts attended a handful of sessions on embracing new technologies and innovating within current processes, including one discussion that dissected controls testing automation while working from home.

As the session explained, professionals take more time to run tests and aggregate data than actually responding to the test results they find. Luckily, there are solutions and platforms out there that can ingest data in real-time. What we took away: it's a no-brainer to start automating your controls testing—today even more than ever, since much of that work is done remotely.

2. Agility matters more than ever

The old, ad hoc way of auditing is sooooo 2019—an agile approach is what we need, and IIA GRC reaffirmed that.

But, practically, what does it mean to make your audit more agile? It’s both a physical shift and a mindset shift: 

  • Mentally, your team needs to change their thought process and be able to switch priorities on a dime to address emerging risks. The most pressing risk yesterday may not be the most pressing one today. The ability to change is critical.
  • Physically, restructuring of how your team plans may be necessary as well. Traditionally, internal audit teams create their yearly plan and try their hardest to stick to it. Both agile mindset and agile structure must work together.

One session we attended highlighted the dramatic shift banking professionals needed to make in response to COVID-19. They saw a reduction in business activities. Meanwhile, relief efforts for their customers, such as loans, began to take precedent.

If there was a yearly schedule, there is no way banks followed it. They now have to be in a state of continuous monitoring and need to be able to adapt to economic uncertainty and their customers’ new needs.

Making the switch—mentally and physically—to an agile business process can help your organization be ready for any additional craziness the world throws our way. (Murder hornets, anyone?)

3. Improve communication, especially between audit and IT

One session made a great correlation between IT and Batman. No, we're not making this up.

Batman tends to show up only when the Bat Signal is lit. Similarly, as the session explained, your IT team shows up when they’ve been summoned by executives to come out of the darkness of the "Bat Cave" and to the rescue.

Why? According to the presenter, IT teams need to have the communication skills to sell what they need as beneficial to the entire organization—not just a neat, new, nice-to-have feature. 

This is a world where cybersecurity and risk and hacking are all very much concerns of internal audit teams as well. Internal audit has to work together with IT to support and relay needs to leadership. (And working from home doesn't make those circumstances easier, naturally.)

Ready to hear more? Get a more in-depth IIA GRC 2020 Conference recap by listening to the full Off the Books episode. Better yet, subscribe now on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

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