The word “audit” often carries with it a sense of dread and foreboding. This may be because many companies are ill equipped to handle the amount of work required to prepare for fiscal, regulatory, and compliance audits such as payment card industry (PCI) and personally identifiable information (PII) audits. With the right preparation and tools, however, you can be confident that your audits will run smoothly.
Prepare Your SAP Systems for Audits
Let’s take a look at seven strategies that make it easier for organizations running SAP systems to prepare for audits.
1. Start with an Information Lifecycle Management Strategy
Align the organization’s retention policies and audit requirements with what will be needed to support them — operational changes, new technology, or a combination of both. Start with an information lifecycle management strategy to ensure that information is managed correctly over time and across the entire SAP system landscape. Remember that retention polices are essential to any audit.
2. Consider the Effects of Global Audit Requirements
Businesses with global operations must consider the effects of global audit requirements before investing in specific solutions or changing procedures. Regulations can change frequently, and some countries such as France, Luxembourg, and Brazil have especially stringent compliance requirements. Invest in flexible tools that can generate the right information in the right format at the right time.
3. Don’t Forget About Data Extraction
Ask any auditor, finance team member, or IT service provider — extracting data for audits can be a lengthy and difficult process. Think about how data will be extracted in the event of an audit and look for ways to leverage the built-in capabilities and specialized solutions that are available in your SAP landscape to ensure your organization will be able to respond quickly and easily to any audit request.
Build audit requirements directly into process optimization efforts to minimize duplication of efforts and allow auditors to be self-sufficient.
4. Adopt the Latest SAP Technologies for Audits
Even if you have SAP solutions for governance, risk, and compliance (SAP solutions for GRC) in place, you must implement the latest release to have access to the most up-to-date features for controlling risk, preventing fraud, and implementing stronger process controls. Don’t forget to consider how these new capabilities will affect data growth and data extraction.
5. Optimize Audit-Related Tasks
Due to the perceived infrequency of audits, many organizations do not optimize audit-related tasks or toolsets. However, these tools can enable quicker audit response times and reduce fines, penalties, and the overall cost of audits. Wherever possible, build audit requirements directly into process optimization efforts to minimize duplication of efforts and allow auditors to be self-sufficient.
6. Calculate the ROI of Audit Compliance
Once the proper audit controls are in place, it is important to calculate the return on investment (ROI) of audit compliance. To ensure adequate funding and support for compliance at the highest levels of the organization, assign values to fraud prevention, data privacy and protection, and more secure processes.
7. Lower the Cost of Long-Term Data Storage
Data retention periods can vary depending on the type of data and the applicable regulations. Health, academic, and other personal data must be kept for much longer periods than financial data, for example. Consider using data archiving and cloud storage to lower the cost of long-term data storage.
For more information on preparing your SAP systems for audits, visit www.dolphin-corp.com.