RPA Process Audit

Procedures we perform at various stages in the audit lifecycle of RPA to address the specific risks emerging from an automated setup. The following points post lights the various phases of audit and the key considerations that the Management and the Auditors need to take care of −

  • During the planning phase, it is important to gain a clear understanding of the areas where BOT will be implemented. It is also important to understand the level of automation of robotic processes: Partial, full or no automation in the planning phase to be better prepared for the audit.

  • Once the auditor determines that there are automations in an environment, a specialist with the necessary knowledge must be added to the team at the walkthrough stage. It is important to identify the additional system to check the risks associated with each automation in the processes.

  • BOTs must be considered as elements of IT. Not every BOT is relevant to the audit; the auditor must be careful to include the BOTs that are relevant to our audit. If there are some controls that are performed by the BOTs, such as report writing, that are used by the auditor or management, they must be included for our general control testing.

  • Auditors used to perform a walkthrough of the process, which helped them understand risks, controls, systems involved, interfaces, etc. However, in the case of a walkthrough of a BOT environment, a code walkthrough is also critical. Scoping IPE/IUC would also require a separate thought process.

  • The auditor must assess whether there are exception reports from BOT that are either reviewed by management or used by the auditor to perform its audit procedures. If there are such reports, the auditor must assess the completeness and accuracy of this information by evaluating the source code, logic, and parameters.

  • In addition, there may be interfaces between different BOTs. It is important to check the appropriate interfaces. The auditor must understand whether these interfaces are unidirectional or bidirectional before checking how they are configured to ensure completeness and accuracy.

Different Phases of Audit when Auditing a BOT Environment

Phase 1: Planning

  • Detailed understanding of the areas where RPA is implemented

  • Audit Plans

Phase 2: Walkthrough

  • Understanding of the process & IT

  • Identification of Risks

  • Identification of Controls

Phase 3: Design Evaluation

  • Evaluation of the Design of controls

  • Exception handling process

  • Identification of gaps

Phase 4: Operating Effectiveness

  • Controls Testing

  • Substantive Testing

Phase 5: Reporting

  • Gaps reporting

  • Recommendations

Reasons to Conduct an RPA Audit

Following are the various reasons for conducting an Audit −

A technology that is becoming more accessible

RPA automates digital business processes, freeing up human workers from tedious chores. RPA bots are now simpler and easier to configure because to the advancement of technology. Almost anybody can now learn how to automate simple manual operations.

Bots are computer programs that can copy and paste data across applications, cross−reference and combine data from other systems, and even make judgments depending on guidelines you give them. RPA may do even more complex tasks like onboarding new staff or providing customer−facing assistance when integrated with artificial intelligence (AI). In this approach, RPA frequently acts as a stepping stone to far bigger—and more crucial—initiatives based on machine learning.

Low−quality data is being given to bots

Bots depend on data since they are software. What they do and how well they do it are both determined by the data that is supplied into them. Rubbish in, garbage out, as the old saying goes. This problem is fundamental to your company's management of data. Exist controls to guarantee data security, privacy, and integrity? IT will need to become engaged in this as data is often under its jurisdiction. Data lifecycle governance: How reliable is it? In this situation, auditing your bots frequently can develop into a more thorough investigation that looks at numerous processes.

The bots keep malfunctioning

Bots can occasionally cease functioning or produce errors. This can be the result of subpar code, insufficient bot testing, or problems with the basic design of the automated process.

Bots should be created using the IT department's usual application development procedures, with sufficient testing done before going into production. They ought to be equipped with monitoring and error−handling features. In this manner, issues may be found quickly. In case the bot goes rogue, you should programme alerts and have "circuit breakers" to stop it. Additionally, you should have a well−defined business continuity plan in place to ensure that operations won't suffer if a bot malfunctions or needs to be shut down.

Due to evolving business and operating paradigms, the bots have not been updated

A bot might become inoperable due to a change in an application, infrastructure, or business strategy. Frequently, when an environment or application is upgraded, bots that are downstream from that environment or application need to have their rules changed.

It is necessary to establish clear lines of accountability and responsibility for determining who will modify the bots or underlying systems. The best way to do this is to put in place a structured change management process that specifies who can make changes, what testing is required to make sure the changes don't cause problems, how far to back up data for version control, and how to notify affected users.

The automated processes are less effective than the manual ones they replaced.

There is always a chance that a process that is supported by a bot will be less effective than the manual one it replaced that was under human management. In these situations, it's possible that the bot was developed without fully understanding the specifications of the work at hand or that the task in question was more difficult than initially believed. If an issue like this arises, it's preferable to identify it quickly to maximize the advantages of using RPA. The firm can suffer from the loss of productivity.