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Book part
Publication date: 8 March 2018

Michael G. Alles, Alexander Kogan and Miklos A. Vasarhelyi

In the almost twenty years since Vasarhelyi and Halper (1991) reported on their pioneering implementation of what has come to be known as Continuous Auditing (CA), the…

Abstract

In the almost twenty years since Vasarhelyi and Halper (1991) reported on their pioneering implementation of what has come to be known as Continuous Auditing (CA), the concept has increasingly moved from theory into practice. A 2006 survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that half of all responding firms use some sort of CA techniques, and the majority of the rest plan to do so in the near future. CA not only has an increasing impact on auditing practice, but is also one of the rare instances in which such a significant change was led by the researchers. In this paper we survey the state of CA after two decades of research into continuous auditing theory and practice, and draw out the lessons learned by us in recent pilot CA projects at two major firms, to examine where this unique partnership between academics and auditors will take CA in the future.

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Continuous Auditing
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-413-4

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Book part
Publication date: 8 March 2018

Miklos A. Vasarhelyi, Michael G. Alles and Alexander Kogan

The advent of new enabling technologies and the surge in corporate scandals has combined to increase the supply, the demand, and the development of enabling technologies…

Abstract

The advent of new enabling technologies and the surge in corporate scandals has combined to increase the supply, the demand, and the development of enabling technologies for a new system of continuous assurance and measurement. This paper positions continuous assurance (CA) as a methodology for the analytic monitoring of corporate business processes, taking advantage of the automation and integration of business processes brought about by information technologies. Continuous analytic monitoring-based assurance will change the objectives, timing, processes, tools, and outcomes of the assurance process.

The objectives of assurance will expand to encompass a wide set of qualitative and quantitative management reports. The nature of this assurance will be closer to supervisory activities and will involve intensive interchange with more of the firm s stakeholders than just its shareholders. The timing of the audit process will be very close to the event, automated, and will conform to the natural life cycle of the underlying business processes. The processes of assurance will change dramatically to being meta-supervisory in nature, intrusive with the potential of process interruption, and focusing on very different forms of evidential matter than the traditional audit. The tools of the audit will expand considerably with the emergence of major forms of new auditing methods relying heavily on an integrated set of automated information technology (IT) and analytical tools. These will include automatic confirmations (confirmatory extranets), control tags (transparent tagging) tools, continuity equations, and time-series cross-sectional analytics. Finally, the outcomes of the continuous assurance process will entail an expanded set of assurances, evergreen opinions, some future assurances, some improvement on control processes (through incorporating CA tests), and some improved data integrity.

A continuous audit is a methodology that enables independent auditors to provide written assurance on a subject matter, for which an entity’s management is responsible, using a series of auditors’ reports issued virtually simultaneously with, or a short period of time after, the occurrence of events underlying the subject matter.

  • CICA/AICPA Research Study on Continuous Auditing (1999)

CICA/AICPA Research Study on Continuous Auditing (1999)

Companies must disclose certain information on a current basis.

  • Corporate and Auditing Accountability, Responsibility, and Transparency (Sarbanes-Oxley) Act (2002)

Corporate and Auditing Accountability, Responsibility, and Transparency (Sarbanes-Oxley) Act (2002)

Details

Continuous Auditing
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-413-4

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Book part
Publication date: 8 March 2018

Michael G. Alles, Alexander Kogan and Miklos A. Vasarhelyi

Given the growing interest in the topic, both in practice and academia, it is timely and important to examine the concept of continuous assurance (CA) and the possible…

Abstract

Summary

Given the growing interest in the topic, both in practice and academia, it is timely and important to examine the concept of continuous assurance (CA) and the possible paths along which such services will evolve. There has been a tendency to see CA purely from the point of view of its technological enablers. As such, it has virtually been taken for granted that CA will follow as a matter of course. What has been less thought through is the business architecture that must underlie CA. In particular, we show that the key driver of CA is the demand for it. While there may be many economic transactions between the company and its stakeholders that could benefit from the provision of CA, there is no guarantee that CA is either cost effective—the only way of enhancing efficiency—or actually has to be continuous. Other factors that will affect the development of CA are the need for a new infrastructure to pay for it, as well as concerns about the independence of the assurors. We also identify some important research issues.

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Book part
Publication date: 8 March 2018

Abstract

Details

Continuous Auditing
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-413-4

To view the access options for this content please click here

Abstract

Details

Continuous Auditing
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-413-4

To view the access options for this content please click here
Book part
Publication date: 8 March 2018

Michael Alles, Gerard Brennan, Alexander Kogan and Miklos A. Vasarhelyi

In this paper we report on the approach we have developed and the lessons we have learned in an implementation of the monitoring and control layer for continuous…

Abstract

In this paper we report on the approach we have developed and the lessons we have learned in an implementation of the monitoring and control layer for continuous monitoring of business process controls (CMBPC) in the US internal IT audit department of Siemens Corporation. The architecture developed by us implements a completely independent CMBPC system running on top of Siemens’ own enterprise information system which has read-only interaction with the application tier of the enterprise system. Among our key conclusions is that “formalizability” of audit procedures and audit judgment is grossly underestimated. Additionally, while cost savings and expedience force the implementation to closely follow the existing and approved internal audit program, a certain level of reengineering of audit processes is inevitable due to the necessity to separate formalizable and non-formalizable parts of the program. Our study identifies the management of audit alarms and the prevention of the alarm floods as critical tasks in the CMBPC implementation process. We develop an approach to solving these problems utilizing the hierarchical structure of alarms and the role-based approach to assigning alarm destinations. We also discuss the content of the audit trail of CMBPC.

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Article
Publication date: 2 February 2015

Ting Sun, Michael Alles and Miklos A. Vasarhelyi

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the hurdles, compared with that in the United States, for the implementation of Continuous Auditing in China. As a timely…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the hurdles, compared with that in the United States, for the implementation of Continuous Auditing in China. As a timely, cost-saving and efficient auditing method, continuous auditing is being increasingly adopted throughout the world. However, while it is increasingly applied in the USA, continuous auditing is still in its infancy in China.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper compares and contrasts China and the USA in three important dimensions that determine the “economic architecture” of assurance: the business environment, the audit profession and technology.

Findings

The authors find that excessive government intervention in business, the lack of competition, independence of auditors, the support from management and the continuous auditing-specific regulations, as well as the technology gap between these two countries, are the main barriers for the implementation of continuous auditing in China.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of this paper provide better understanding of the drivers of continuous auditing adoption in the USA and the barriers toward doing so in China.

Practical implications

The term “continuous auditing” has never been formally introduced until the release of the draft of the Internal Control Audit Guide in 2011.

Originality/value

The paper highlights how technology by itself is not deterministic, but given the extraordinary rise in the Chinese economy in both its size and its sophistication, it has be to assumed that its “leapfrog” into parity if not outright leadership in continuous assurance is still a matter of “when” and not of “if”.

Details

Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 30 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-6902

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1998

Michael Alles, Srikant Datar and Mahendra Gupta

Explains that a common problem of cost control at design stage is the firm’s (manager’s) desire for the lowest cost compatible with supporting innovation and the…

Abstract

Explains that a common problem of cost control at design stage is the firm’s (manager’s) desire for the lowest cost compatible with supporting innovation and the designer’s preference for the optimal design, which may be unnecessarily sophisticated. Develops a mathematical model to represent this situation, pointing out that the manager is usually unaware of the design alternatives unless they are revealed by the designer, but can use budgetary limits and “load” costs onto certain cost drivers (e.g. number of parts) to influence the designer’s choice and align his/her interests with those of the firm. Suggests that the difference between actual and “loaded” costs is a function of the non‐cost benefits from design choice (e.g. competitive edge) and the degree of information asymmetry between manager and designer. Considers the implications for costing activities and the limitations of the model.

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Managerial Finance, vol. 24 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0307-4358

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Book part
Publication date: 3 July 2017

Alan Reinstein, Mohamed E. Bayou, Paul F. Williams and Michael M. Grayson

Compare and contrast how the accounting, organizational behavior and other literatures analyze sunk costs. Sunk costs form a key part of the decision-making component of…

Abstract

Purpose

Compare and contrast how the accounting, organizational behavior and other literatures analyze sunk costs. Sunk costs form a key part of the decision-making component of the management accounting literature, which generally include previously incurred and unrecoverable costs. Management accountants believe, since current or future actions cannot change sunk costs, decision makers should ignore them. Thus, ongoing fixed costs or previously incurred sunk costs, while relevant for matters of accountability such as costing, income determination, and performance evaluation are irrelevant for most short- and long-term decisions. However, the organizational behavior literature indicates that sunk costs affect decision makers’ actions – especially their emotional attachments to the related project and the asymmetry of attitudes regarding the recognizing of losses and gains. Called the “sunk cost effect” or “sunk cost fallacy,” this conflict in sunk costs’ underlying nature reflects one element of incoherence in contemporary accounting discourse. We discuss this sunk cost conflict from an accounting and a philosophical perspective to denote some ambiguities that decision usefulness and accountability introduces into accounting discourse.

Methodology/approach

Review, summarize and analyze the above literatures

Findings

Managerial accountants can apply many lessons from the various literature sources.

Originality/value

We also show how differing opinions on how to treat sunk costs impact a firm’s decision-making process both economically and socially.

Details

Advances in Management Accounting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-530-6

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1985

Tomas Riha

Nobody concerned with political economy can neglect the history of economic doctrines. Structural changes in the economy and society influence economic thinking and…

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1324

Abstract

Nobody concerned with political economy can neglect the history of economic doctrines. Structural changes in the economy and society influence economic thinking and, conversely, innovative thought structures and attitudes have almost always forced economic institutions and modes of behaviour to adjust. We learn from the history of economic doctrines how a particular theory emerged and whether, and in which environment, it could take root. We can see how a school evolves out of a common methodological perception and similar techniques of analysis, and how it has to establish itself. The interaction between unresolved problems on the one hand, and the search for better solutions or explanations on the other, leads to a change in paradigma and to the formation of new lines of reasoning. As long as the real world is subject to progress and change scientific search for explanation must out of necessity continue.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 12 no. 3/4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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