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NEWS ARTICLE: QUARTER 1 - 2012

Paul Smith, the Managing Director of Arch Assurance, has noticed an increased demand in a number of companies who questions the skills and experience levels of auditors when performing assurance reviews on SAP programs and projects.

This is mostly due to a number of auditors having the required audit skill set and background but lacking the SAP functional and/or implementation experience to perform effective assurance reviews.

The principle of “substance over form” is often not followed during these types of SAP assurance reviews. Auditors are often more concerned about the methodology followed and format of the output as opposed to the substance of the findings and recommendations when performing these assurance reviews. Hence stakeholders often challenge the need for and value-add of providing external assurance on SAP initiatives.

It is agreed that Assurance Services Providers should maintain a level of independence from the project in performing these types of reviews. Whilst the ultimate objective should be to provide assurance to the Executive Sponsorship and Leadership Team around the risk profile and outcome of SAP initiatives, many projects welcome a more value-add approach in securing the achievement of the envisaged or stated project goals and objectives.

Paul has been at both ends of the stick in receiving or delivering assurance reviews for a number of SAP projects in either his delivery or assurance role. He is of the opinion that the quality of the assurance review output is determined by and significantly impacted by the SAP skill set and experience level of the auditor/s involved.

Once an opinion is formed about the skills level of an auditor and the quality of the assurance output, the perception of no value add is often not or difficult to change with key stakeholders.

Hence, assurance review teams should either be made up of experienced SAP practitioners with the required audit skill set or supplemented to this effect. Having an audit skill set only when performing these types of assurance reviews will not add value to any SAP initiative.

 

March 2012

Paul Smith

Managing Director – Arch Assurance