Chief audit executives are focusing on adding more value to their organizations as they move away from strictly a compliance role.

A new survey by Grant Thornton of more than 330 chief audit executives from U.S. organizations found that they would like their departments to be viewed more as strategic partners, but acknowledge the need to make strides when it comes to delivering business insights. Survey respondents cited budget constraints (58 percent), talent limitations (51 percent) and image problems (51 percent) as barriers that impede internal audit from delivering greater insights and strategic value.

“We’re seeing an increasing number of CAEs trying to shift focus and efforts from their historic compliance-related roles to being more strategic contributors to their organizations,” said Warren Stippich, a Chicago-based partner and Grant Thornton’s national Governance, Risk and Compliance practice leader. “CAEs, who have a wealth of knowledge about their organizations, are in a really good position to continue down the path of value creation. But, it’s not without its challenges—it requires using technology, being smarter about audit approaches, and getting more involved both at the business unit or process level and the strategic thinking level.”

Internal audit departments have not embraced wholly technology to gain more efficiency. More than 77 percent of the survey respondents said they are still not using governance, risk and compliance software or internal audit-specific tools. That represented a slight increase of respondents adopting these technologies since last year’s survey, when 79 percent of the respondents said they had not adopted such technologies.

Data analytics continue to gain in popularity with chief audit executives, with 66 percent of the survey respondents saying they are taking advantage of this tool, while 38 percent are using it for forensic analysis, 32 percent for performance measurement, and 15 percent for predictive analytics—more than doubling the usage rates found in each of these areas since last year’s survey.

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