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Gaining an IDEAScript Advantage


CPA Firm’s Journey in Becoming Data-Analytics Driven
 

A group of data analytics enthusiasts at Schneider Downs & Co. asked staff and senior-level analysts to participate in a study where they were asked to perform 13 different processes on a sample Journal Entry file – a task they regularly perform on the 400+ audit engagements the firm conducts each year. On average, it took them about 1.5 hours to complete. They were then asked to run an IDEAScript to perform the same process, which took under one minute to complete.

“After our study, it didn’t take much to convince our senior management and staff that we needed to invest in data analytics,” said Matt Kraemer, manager of Audit and Assurance Advisory Services with Schneider Downs.

Matt was first introduced to CaseWare IDEA® in 2012 when he joined Schneider Downs, one of the nation’s top-ranked independent CPA firms. Today, he uses it every day on every audit engagement.

In 2018 at the IDEA Innovations Conference, Matt discovered IDEAScripting, which has since transformed Schneider Downs’ client service approach.

“The first time I was introduced to IDEAScripts, I realized it would change how we serve our clients,” said Matt. “It had such an immediate impact on our firm that we immediately set up a dedicated group of industry and analytics experts to explore new possibilities for using data analytics in our audit engagements.”

In 2019, Matt established the Automation and Data Analytics Process Team (ADAPT) to enhance the use of data analytics by creating a service line that serves the firm’s clients better. Matt has developed a library of at least ten scripts he uses on nearly every audit engagement.

“The added benefit of using IDEAScripts, beyond boosting our efficiency levels, is the consistency and accuracy they give us,” said Matt. “We’ve vetted the process, so as long as the criteria are set up, we push a button and get consistent results every time. We’re not changing the process, we’re automating it, which makes it quicker for the end-user to utilize its capabilities. Visual scripting is great for anyone without programming experience. It writes the script for you as you go.”

The firm’s IDEA Focus Group meets regularly to identify areas where IDEA and IDEAScripts can be used to automate audit work. For example, the standards require auditors to perform certain procedures on Journal Entries. They are using a set of IDEAScripts to pull out high-risk Journal Entries based on specific criteria and risk factors. Automation not only saves time, but helps the team stay focused.
 

“The added benefit of using IDEAScripts, beyond boosting our efficiency levels, is the consistency and accuracy they give us. We’ve vetted the process, so as long as the criteria are set up, we push a button and get consistent results every time. We’re not changing the process, we’re automating it, which makes it quicker for the end-user to utilize its capabilities. Visual scripting is great for anyone without programming experience. It writes the script for you as you go.”
 
Matt Kraemer, Manager of Audit & Assurance Advisory Services with Schneider Downs

 
They have also automated an accounts receivable liquidation process where IDEA is used to join an AR aging file for the year with a cash receipts file to look for customers with high uncollected balances.

“We’ve changed the way we work by considering whether data analytics can be used instead of Excel or a manual process,” said Matt. “We now meet with audit engagement teams and come up with customized solutions for those engagements.”

There are two new accounting standard updates where data analytics is a natural fit: new lease standard (effective 2021 for calendar year-end private companies) and revenue recognition (effective 2019 calendar year-end private companies). The team is already developing analytics to address the new standards and coming up with solutions to help their clients.

Using IDEA, they are searching cash disbursement files for the year to look for payments to the same vendor for the same dollar amount. For clients who rent space in a building or have entered other lease agreements, they are automating the process of scanning monthly lease data at a much faster pace than they were able to achieve using Excel.

For a transportation and logistics company now required to recognize revenue while goods are in transit, the auditors are analyzing shipment origination and delivery dates to calculate revenue.

“With more efficient procedures in place, we’re in and out faster with less clean-up on the back end,” said Matt. “Clients are interested in how we can help them from a deep data analytics perspective. For our clients who already use IDEA, we’re developing IDEAScripts for them to run monthly. They are building those into their standard closing procedures.”
 

“With more efficient procedures in place, we’re in and out faster with less clean-up on the back end. Clients are interested in how we can help them from a deep data analytics perspective. For our clients who already use IDEA, we’re developing IDEAScripts for them to run monthly. They are building those into their standard closing procedures.”
 
Matt Kraemer, Manager of Audit & Assurance Advisory Services with Schneider Downs

 

Experts from various industry groups within Schneider Downs meet with individual audit engagement teams to collaborate and identify opportunities for greater efficiency. They are also taking advantage of IDEA’s visual dashboards to run preliminary analytics and prepare for audit performance reviews. With a few clicks, they can identify risks or significant changes and provide recommendations.

“Data analytics is gaining momentum,” said Matt. “The availability of data is growing, and companies are producing higher volumes of data every day. We’re finding new ways to turn data into revenue and increase the bottom line.”

Special thanks to Matt Kraemer for sharing how Schneider Downs is using advanced technology and analysis to provide clients with top-notch accounting, tax and business advisory services. The firm provides more than 80 distinct services to clients of nearly any background: large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held companies, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities, service firms and professional associations. For more information, visit www.schneiderdowns.com.


Audit , CaseWare IDEA , IDEAScript



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By Sarah Palombo
Sarah Palombo founded Avery Public Relations in 2007 and took on Audimation Services as her first client. She has more than 20 years of experience developing communications programs and creating content.


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