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Strategies for the Comparison Stack

Utilizing benchmark audits

A benchmark audit is created to snapshot your current situation – you create an audit then immediately mark it complete. If you have a cadence for creating benchmark audits, perhaps annually, consider emptying your Comparison Stack before creating the benchmark so that your benchmark does not contain any highlights. After that, you can put audits back onto your Comparison Stack. If benchmarks for comparisons are important to you, then create an “initial” audit and do not make any changes to compliance or data mapping until the benchmark is marked Complete.

It is important to note that comparisons will only be made between: a) the current audit and b) the most-recent audit on the comparison stack that contains the same items as found in the current audit. With this in mind, create one benchmark audit for each combination of sections where you wish to monitor progress with comparisons. You may find that one audit with ALL sections will meet your business needs, thus having only one benchmark audit for comparisons.

Also consider how frequently you want to change which audit you are comparing to. You may only want a “benchmark” and an “ongoing” open audit for comparisons, or you may want a new audit for comparison every time you work on reviewing and reducing risk. Or, your needs may fall somewhere in between with multiple but perhaps not frequent audits, or quarterly/annual audits. Audits and Comparisons are flexible, so determine the cadence that is appropriate for your business needs.

Creating benchmark audits for comparison

The steps for creating benchmarks are:

  • Create new audit
  • View audit and “Mark as complete”
  • View audit and “Add to comparison stack”
  • For backup purposes, you may wish to download an Excel of the Real-Time Audit and/or a Compliance Risk Report PDF

Once the benchmark audits are in the Comparison Stack, you can create a new audit for each section or or all sections and begin working on updates.

Run comparisons and download results over different time periods

As an example: Your usual cadence is running quarterly audits but at year-end, you wish to save comparison results for the full year, not just quarter-to-quarter:

  • You have quarterly audits from 12/31/2022, 3/31/2023, 6/30/2023, 9/30/2023, and 12/31/2023
  • The first four are Completed and on the Comparison Stack
  • Your 12/31/2023 audit is currently compared to 9/30/2023, but you wish to document your progress for the calendar year
  • Download an Excel copy of the 12/31/2023 audit for your records, noting this comparison is to 9/30/2023
  • Remove audits 3/31/2023, 6/30/2023 and 9/30/2023 from the Comparison Stack
  • Open audit 12/31/2023 and Recalculate; it will compare to 12/31/2022
  • Download an Excel copy of the 12/31/2023 audit for your records, noting this comparison is to 12/31/2022
  • You could now return 3/31/2023, 6/30/2023 and 9/30/2023 to the Comparison Stack; you may also Recalculate 12/31/2023 to return to the current quarter if you wish

Lock an audit as a snapshot in time

To “lock in” the state of results and the Comparison Audit, mark an audit as Complete. You will not be able to Recalculate – which means the results are now a snapshot in time and the Comparison Audit cannot be changed, even if the Comparison Stack has been changed.

Learn audits through trial and error

As you are learning audits and determining the best process and cadence for your organization, we recommend you create a few audits, make minor changes (and later undo, if needed), then delete the testing audit reports.

Strategically name your audits

Currently you cannot rename an audit, so create a naming strategy that meets your reporting needs. Items you may wish to include in the name:

  • “Full” or sections included
  • Date / time
  • Incremental version created that day (eg -1, -2) if time is not used
  • Department / person using or requesting the audit
  • “Test” or “Benchmark” if that is the function of the audit
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