Chief audit executives face a number of challenges in attempting to comply with regulatory statutes, according to a survey conducted by data analysis firm ACL Services Ltd. in cooperation with the Institute of Internal Auditors.

Asked to select from a list of key business challenges, executives most frequently cited a shortage of competent internal audit staff (70 percent) and a complex IT infrastructure (60 percent) as the major problems impacting their ability to fulfill internal audit objectives. More than half of the survey's 850 respondents, all members of IIA, were from large corporations with annual revenues of more than $1 billion.

The survey also confirmed that audit leaders view the adoption of continuous monitoring and auditing technology as an important solution to many of the problems identified.

Over 90 percent of audit executives surveyed felt that their organizations should automate the testing of their internal controls (continuous monitoring) at the management and business-process-owner level. Continuous auditing (testing internal controls at the audit level) also scored high as a priority, with 75 percent of respondents saying that they have implemented, or have plans to implement, the approach in key business processes within the next year."Sometimes, internal audit focus can be diverted away from its overall responsibilities to support management's compliance efforts, which can be time consuming," said IIA president Dave Richards, in a statement. "If this prevents the internal auditors from completing the audit plan, it leaves companies wide open to a vast array of other risks that should be assessed and monitored. Software that automates the testing of internal controls to help meet compliance requirements can be a useful tool in balancing the scope of internal audit work."

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