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August 14, 2020

Generating Internal Audit Workpapers with RPA

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With the speed of technological change in our world today, Internal Audit functions cannot continue operating as they have done in the past. Instead, they must embrace technology and learn to take advantage of the many prospects that they present.

With Robotic Process Automation (RPA), there is tremendous opportunity to automate audit-related processes which exist across the lifecycle. A great example is the generation of control workpapers used in an Internal Audit or SOX project, as seen here:

Current Challenges

For Internal Audit functions still using Excel-based workpapers, generating consistent and accurate workpapers is a tedious, repetitive, and inefficient process when performed manually:

        • Workpaper Rollforward – Auditors will often leverage prior year workpapers and update data where necessary to save time. Because important control changes may not be captured, this method can result in workpapers being populated with inaccurate information.
        • Manual Generation – Given the volume that must be created, as well as the number of specific data elements that must be extracted from a Risk Control Matrix (RCM) and populated into each control workpaper, manually completing this process from scratch can take several hours for an audit team.

 Benefits of Automating the Process

RPA can help in several ways:

        • Time Savings – The bot can generate hundreds of workpapers in a matter of minutes as compared to days for a human to complete manually.
        • Eliminate Errors – The bot will produce higher-quality results by consistently executing the process without error, which is especially helpful in automating this high-volume, low-complexity audit task.
        • Greater Focus on Value-Add Activities – The Internal Audit team will have additional time to perform more thoughtful and analytical work that should translate into greater value for the project.

This video demo illustrates the end-to-end workpaper generation process where the bot extracts key data (i.e., business process, control number, control description, control testing procedures, etc.) from the Risk Control Matrix (RCM), creates a new control workpaper for each unique business process using a standardized template, and populates the new workpaper with key data elements.


 This relatively simple, but practical, example represents just the tip of the iceberg in terms of opportunities to drive audit innovation through automation. By taking advantage of “quick-wins” such as this, Internal Audit can transform into a more efficient and effective function.

For more information about how Internal Audit can improve performance by leveraging Robotic Process Automation (RPA), please see our previous post, Internal Audit: Harnessing the Power of RPA.