Our action tracking and reporting tool
For both the Internal Audit team and the recommendation owners alike, audit recommendation follow up (or action tracking / audit findings management), is never fun. It happens every month where the Internal Audit team needs to contact a bunch of recommendation owners, pester for responses, collate responses, then prepare a bunch of dashboard reporting. Its a tedious, time consuming task, and something which always takes longer to complete than anticipated.
For some audit departments, you may be fortunate enough to have a big enough budget that you can afford programs such as TeamMate, Workiva or bespoke action tracking tools. For others, you are more than likely managing your audit actions through an Excel file.
This is why we have created an action tracking tool. It may not have all the bells and whistles that come with a fancy action tracking program, but it is a cheap and cost effective option which will still deliver much the same results (just with a little bit of manual intervention.
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In this post, we will explain our Action Tracking tool in more detail, the features of the tool, and how you can use it.
Welcome to the Action Tracker
When opening the Excel Action Tracker, you will be presented with the 'Home' tab. This is a quick little directory page which explains what each tab does, and links to each of the tabs.
Action Tracker Database
This tab is essentially the brains of the tool. Here, you will record every single audit recommendation and associated actions. This tab should effectively be used as a database. Here you will record details such as:
Audit report and audit finding rating
Most recent action update
Number of extensions
Link to closure supporting evidence
The database maintains data integrity by using drop down menu's and formula's where possible. For instance, where one recommendation has multiple actions, each individual action can be recorded and tracked separately. Formula's will then calculate these back to the one recommendation.
Additionally, formulas are used in the database to calculation action item ageing and days overdue.
An example of one part of the Dashboard is included below.
Action Tracker Dashboard
The results from the database are then summarised into the below Dashboard example. This is a generic dashboard and can be tailored /updated to match your audit department's specific needs (as much as practically possible).
In the Action Tracking Tool, the Dashboard will present the following results:
Number of open findings
Number of open actions (remember - 1 finding may have multiple actions).
Number of actions overdue
Open actions per business area (how many are open and how many are overdue)
Action item history (how many actions have been open each month).
Monthly reconciliation of opened, closed and current open actions
Breakdown of actions per Business Area
Breakdown of actions per Audit
It is important to note the difference between a finding and an action. The Dashboard is calculated based on actions and there may be multiple actions per recommendation.
The Dashboard has also been designed so that you can import your current actions into this tool and manually plug in the first months numbers so the reconciliation can automatically recalculate each month going forward.
This is just a generic template, meaning teams have the ability to add columns and include additional analysis which may help with their monthly audit recommendation follow up / action tracking reporting or Audit Committee presentations.
Tips for making the tool work
As with any Excel tool, we need to be careful to ensure we don't lose any data, that the file is not broken, and that all data is entered consistently. Below are a few tips and tricks to ensure your action tracking process does not suffer any issues:
Have a very clearly documented action tracking and follow up process for both the Internal Audit team and the business. Make sure everyone is aware of this process and sticks to it. Making exceptions to the process only makes this task harder and more time consuming for yourself.
Have defined roles and responsibilities for the preparer and reviewer.
Have a set timeline for when responses must be requested, received and reporting prepared.
Save a back up copy of the action tracker every month. That way, if there are any issues, you can always go back to a previous months version.
Keep it simple. Don't over complicate the process and don't give out too much info. The more info you give, the more people will want. Don't get into the habit of over reporting or over analysing.
Here to help!
We appreciate that it may be hard to just pick up this template and run with it. This is why we are happy to help. Ways in which we can help include:
Customising the tool to suit your business and needs.
Importing all your current actions into the tool.
Providing a virtual walkthrough of the tool and answering any questions you may have.
If there is any other way which we can help (even by performing your monthly follow up process!), please feel free to contact us here. All services are charged at an hourly fee.
The Action Tracker tool also includes a tab with links and ways in which we can help.
To view the free copy of this template, please click here.
To purchase the editable / working version of this tool / template, please click here.
To become a subscriber and download this template, and all of our other templates, for an annual fee, please click here.
To arrange a call and customise this template for your business, please email us here.