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Internal Audit Reports Post Sarbanes-Oxley: A Guide to Process-Driven Reporting by Susan M. Switzer

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CHAPTER 4

NEW LOOKS FOR AUDIT REPORTS

Information visualization is the key to creating knowledge from data. However, as data sets become larger and more complex, the capability to visualize and effectively package them often lags behind the ability to collect the raw material.

Internal auditors routinely examine enormous volumes of data, and the stakes are higher, since SOX, for omissions or misstatements. In attempting to include every material control deficiency and potential risk, how can dreaded data dumps—and the response of TMI—be avoided? If too much information is provided, report writers run the risks of losing readers and losing focus.

Presenting quantitative information in an appealing format is more than just cosmetic nicety; clean layouts contribute to comprehension and clarity of message. Also, it is easier to pay attention to—and care about—information that is attractively presented, especially when it is complex.

ADVANTAGES OF AUTOMATED, LIMITED SPACE

Fortunately, tabular reports and automated formats have arrived. Verbiage that is literally boxed and packaged is now being used, even in the Executive Summaries of many internal audit reports. Longer, more literary phrasings are being replaced by words that are better suited to defined-format space—and short attention spans.

However, highly condensed, telegraphic-style writing can be difficult to decipher, particularly when the subject matter is technical and filled with acronyms (what does SAS stand for?),1 symbols ...

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