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Thinking Like an Auditor

  • Proficiency Means You Never Stop Learning

    March 18, 2020 | By Toby DeRoche MBA, CIA, CCSA, CRMA, CICA, CFE

    Are you a proficient auditor?

    Never Stop Learning

    The question can be difficult to answer. We have so many areas that require constant knowledge updates. Standard 1210 says that we need the “knowledge, skills, and other competencies needed to perform” our audit work. The knowledge and skills range from basic audit skills to industry knowledge, regulations, the Standards, soft skills, technical skills, and more. We also cannot learn something one time and stop. We need to keep refreshing our knowledge of these new concepts.

    The next big question is then: do you know where to go for education? As auditors, we usually look for our education from a handful of sources like the IIA, our local IIA Chapter, maybe other groups like ISACA or the ACFE. Then we look for conferences, but the cost of a conference with the travel is more than most departments can absorb for more than one person. So, we turn to webinars, and there are some really great resources. If you need a place to look, try CPE.io. This site aggregates webinar providers into one location to get rid of the burden of searching. But what if you are looking for something else, something deeper, or maybe a topic that has not quite made it into our industry yet. Turns out there are many options, so we wanted to list out a few that you can try.

    Micro-Learning Sources

    For a quick test, we looked at three micro-learning sites to compare what we could find on a new topic. The sites we searched are Corsera.org, Udemy.com, and EdX.org. We explored the topic of natural language processing to see what types of courses were available either for free or for a low cost. For those who have not heard of natural language processing (NLP), this is a process in which we can use software to read through huge amounts of text to pull out risk factors to feed into risk assessments (among other applications).

    Here is what we found:

    • Edx.org had 10 results, and from this list 2 free courses looked good for intro level information.
    • Corsera.org had 49 results, and again 2 free courses looked good for intro level information, but there were more in-depth courses around machine learning that looked interesting if you wanted to go deeper.
    • Udemy.com was different. This site returned 10,000 results, with significantly more to offer. These courses were all on sale for $9.99 the day we searched, with the regular prices ranging from $19.99 to $199.99. Many of these courses were part of mini-degrees or certificate programs. If you wanted to really dig into the topic, this would be the place to go.

    With this one example, we found that we could cover whatever level of learning we probably needed to learn enough for an intelligent conversation about the topic. One of the methods we use at TeamMate to keep up with all the changes that may impact us as auditors are knowledge sharing sessions. Instead of having everyone attend a course, one person will attend and summarize the information for the group during a lunch and learn session or a monthly best practices meeting. My own team is currently reviewing a new technical topic each week to ensure we are well versed in all aspects of TeamMate’s software from development to deployment. It doesn’t take very long to watch a course online and teach what you learned to your team; you just have to make education a priority. Remember, as auditors, we often need a knowledge base that is an inch thick and a mile wide, so we can never afford to stop learning.

    Moving Up the Digital Skills Spectrum

    Never Stop Learning 2

    No one expects you to become an expert in emerging risk areas or deep technical concepts from a quick online course. We have found that by engaging in these less formal, easily accessible digital education formats, you can move up the Digital Skills Maturity Curve from the early stages to the Digital Beginner or Digital Follower levels. Look for more tips and tools related to assessing your own digital skills over the next few months!

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