Heidelberg Cement and its North American subsidiary, Lehigh Hanson, are global leaders in the cement market. Recently we talked with Anke Eckardt, director of the company’s Group Internal Audit (GIA) about their use of CaseWare IDEA Data Analysis software. Here’s what she had to say.
Q: What prompted your organization to adopt a data analysis tool?
A: To give you some background, we’re a large company that uses three ERP systems that are connected to eight subsystems, most of which can only be accessed by SQL. The reporting on these systems, if any, was very weak and we often received data in PDF format. To make matters more complex, GIA doesn’t do financial audits so we don’t always have access to the source data.
This environment led us to realize that we needed a data analytics tool. Limited access to data, sampling and interviews alone weren’t allowing us to properly quantify issues. It was very frustrating! Because of its intuitive interface and the ability to import any PDF and turn it into a data file, IDEA
was our choice.
Q: How has data analysis helped you collaborate with other teams?
A: Data analysis allows my team to think more about the business and its processes. As some auditors know, sales is notorious for designing their own pricing models, so we helped define standards by using IDEA to create a splatter graph of pricing trends by product. There were many unexpected correlations between volumes and prices, which was very interesting to management.
Today we also use IDEA to create monthly VAT (value-added tax) reports to ensure that the VAT code is correctly assigned on reports to European tax agencies. A similar monthly report is being created for Canada where there is GST, PST and HST (general, provincial and harmonized sales taxes). These reports have uncovered mistakes at the AR and AP level and allowed us to create value by not overpaying on taxes.
Q: What suggestions can you offer to IA teams?
A: Have a dedicated data analyst on your team. It’s a huge advantage because they can establish a relationship with IT, making it easier to get the data you need. The data analyst also becomes an expert on the data and—more importantly—can create macros to make analyses repeatable. Because of our analyst, we now have a number of macros stored in IDEA that can be run on defined data sets (or directly from a data extract from IT). You could create similar macros in spreadsheets, but it would take a very long time.
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About Anu Sood:
Anu Sood is the Director of Product and Corporate Marketing at CaseWare Analytics and is responsible for the company’s global marketing strategy. Prior to CaseWare Analytics, Anu worked in various roles in the high-tech industry and her accomplishments range from writing software for telephone switches to launching a new global satellite communication service. Anu has extensive experience in strategic marketing, corporate communications, demand generation, content marketing, product management, product marketing and technology development.
Connect: Anu Sood