The Institute of Internal Auditors has published a new guide to help auditors deal with the challenges of “big data,” the huge volumes of structured and unstructured information that’s being generated at a fast pace by today’s systems.

The IIA’S Global Technology Audit Guide: Understanding and Auditing Big Data discusses how the internal audit function can monitor the technology and the emerging trends and capabilities available.

The guide also covers the organizational roles and responsibilities of internal audit and addresses the competencies and capabilities needed to assess a big data program’s effectiveness in providing strategic value and addressing risks. The guide provides some examples of data analytics program capabilities, challenges, opportunities, benefits and risks. It includes common procedures that might typically be performed when auditing such emerging analytics tools.

“Organizations that effectively acquire and leverage big data have the opportunity to improve customer satisfaction and maximize their success,” said IIA president and CEO Richard F. Chambers in a statement.

The IIA guidance suggests that internal audit should consider the role of big data within organizations as part of risk assessment and audit planning. “If the risks are significant, internal audit can determine an appropriate plan to provide coverage of big data risks and controls,” said the guide. “In doing so, internal audit has the opportunity to educate the board on the organization’s big data initiatives, the resulting risks and challenges, and the significant opportunities and benefits. Typically, internal audit provides coverage of big data through multiple audits versus a single, stand-alone big data audit. As big data programs are implemented, similar to other large-scale programs, internal audit should consider involvement through formal and/or informal assessments. These may include advisory projects, pre- or post-implementation reviews, and adequate participation in governance and steering committees.”

The guide is available through the IIA Bookstore.

Institute of Internal Auditors headquarters in Florida
Institute of Internal Auditors headquarters in Florida Courtesy of the IIA

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Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of AccountingToday.com, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.