BACKGROUND: D'Arcangelo & Co., LLP has been using CAATs auditing techniques to enhance audit effectiveness and special forensic assignments since the late 1970s.
PLATFORMS: WizRule from WizSoft, Inc. was utilized in conjunction with a Windows 95-based notebook computer.
PROBLEM SOLVED: We selected WizRule to complement the use of other computer auditing software packages. Our aim in using WizRule was to supplement our standard audit tests with an application that could broaden the auditor's analysis of the logical structure underlying the database file. In addition, we anticipated that WizRule would provide a comprehensive examination of any unusual patterns existing in the data, some of which might not have been detected by standard audit tests of the files. WizRule identified several anomalies within three files tested. One finding related to a late payroll date, which was outside the anticipated range based on regularly occurring pay periods within the file. Overrides in a check register file were also found in which fields were transposed, and unusual billing codes were identified within a sales journal. These findings led to other concerns, such as the potential for operator override within the database.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The auditor found the software to be user friendly and efficient. Results were compiled and analyzed within one day.
STRENGTHS: The main strengths of WizRule were the speed of processing and the simplicity of use. An added strength was the ability to compare findings against rules within the total population. This feature made the abstract rules generated intuitively clear. Furthermore, the application permits the user to fine-tune the input variables (data fields) to isolate rules which have greater audit significance. The advantage of using WizRule lies in its ability to identify relationships that an auditor may not have considered in planning the audit. WizRule processed the complex payroll file containing in excess of 100,000 records within a few minutes.
WEAKNESSES: WizRule could be improved by including the ability to export all records containing deviations for further analysis to a spreadsheet. Difficulties encountered included analyzing the large number of rules generated initially and the potential hazard of excluding rules and deviations that occur a limited number of times in the database. However, we note that these concerns are mitigated by the auditor's ability to exclude variables from the test, thereby allowing the auditor to focus on those variables that are considered to be most relevant.
SELECTION CRITERIA: The firm's main reason for selecting WizRule was its ability to analyze, summarize and print the logical rules governing the ordering of a database in simple layman's terms. This feature enhances the auditor's ability to anticipate expected relationships between the variables in the database and to efficiently examine the exceptions. Most CAATs programs automate selected procedures based on expected relationships in the data. WizRule enables the auditor to discover relationships that are not otherwise apparent. This level of logical analysis is usually found only in packages costing tens of thousands of dollars, whereas WizRule retails for approximately $1,400.
DELIVERABLES: Product output is multitiered. Three types of reports are generated: a spelling analysis report, a rules report and a deviations report. Within the spelling report, deviations are located quickly by a mouse click and easily compared to the general rule. The rules report generates a printable text file that lists all of the rules discovered by WizRule. It also identifies all examples of a given rule. Within the deviations report, a rules chart presents a graph of the conditions generating the rule plus a graph of the number of times the associated finding occurred within the population. This useful feature provides a bridge between the abstract rules generated in the rules report and the findings in the deviations report. A text-format deviations report can be printed for follow-up of individual deviations. Another feature of the deviations report is the ability to review the findings graphically, sorted by improbability of occurrence, field number or record number. All of the reports display individual records and the related fields which can be scrolled through rapidly.
VENDOR SUPPORT: We did not need WizSoft for support.
DOCUMENTATION: The manual was brief but informative. It was written to provide a common-sense introduction to the product's features. Some additional instruction might be useful to guide beginners in developing an intuitive approach to assessing the abundance of relationships generated by WizRule.
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