The digitalization of societies is proceeding at an ever-increasing pace. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the impact of digital technology on service provision even under exceptional circumstances.
The ongoing digital transformation has been further accelerating recently – globally and in all sectors – and it also applies to auditing. Digitalization means both threats and opportunities to future auditing. One of the threats is that conventional auditing cannot flexibly provide timely audit information to meet customer needs if we fail to develop our operations and broadly utilize the opportunities offered by digital technology and data analytics. On the other hand, digitalization offers unique opportunities to auditing and to improving its impact as part of the societal knowledge base.
The National Audit Office of Finland (NAOF) has identified the opportunities offered by digitalization in its strategy. As part of the implementation of our strategy, we have accelerated our development work towards multi-type audits utilizing digital and data analytics. The strategic goal of the NAOF is to create a new operating model for audits by combining different audit methodologies and expertise in them with the benefits offered by digitalization and data analytics to form ‘multi-type’ audit projects. We thus aim to achieve a capability of examining more extensive phenomena and entities linked with central government finances and to improve the impact of our operations.
The NAOF's operations are already digital: data and technologies are broadly utilized in financial audits, for example. We also utilize digital solutions to support our work in other audit types, and we have, for example, examined and tested the application of text analytics to audits. In the next phase, the aim of the strategic development and digital transformation is to start productizing and systematizing digital and data analytics services in order to integrate them with all audit work and to form a digital multi-type audit process in order to combine information produced by the different audit types. We have launched the development work in the autumn of 2020 by laying the groundwork and creating common understanding:
- We will define a common digital goal and specify our aim and development target in concrete terms, turning them into a concept.
- To be able to produce the concept, we will plan a model for digital development and create a first-phase development portfolio to support the implementation (projects) and a modern solution architecture required to achieve the goal.
- The portfolio will also support the management of the development and the monitoring of its progress in different functions and projects, information management, the development of technical and data analytics services and architecture, and the development of competence and operations according to the model – in all necessary areas.
- In the initial development phase, we will focus on information and data management, i.e. the raw material of our audit work, to ensure that the data and information required for digitalization and data analytics are broadly utilizable both in audits and in our data analytics services supporting them.
The first implementation phase of the digital development takes place from 2021 to 2023, during which period we will lay the foundation for multi-type audits.
Draft target stage audit process with integrated digital and data analytics functions to maximize audit impact
At the NAOF, we have a solid foundation to set off towards the next phase of digital development and transformation, keeping our minds open to the opportunities offered by digitalization and other things that change the world and audit work. Our development work is goal-oriented, but we will also see to it that we will learn and have fun developing the NAOF's operations together with our own experts, our stakeholders and customers, and our international partners.