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Controlled Statements

Using 'Controlled Statements' efficiently

Contents Table, Controlled Statement, Linking controlled statements, Logical relationships, Start linking, Posting systems descriptions, Posting risks, Posting findings, End link, Posting conclusions, Posting recommendations, Query - a special case, Viewing the links, Changing the links, Printing branched links, Tables of Recommendations

The use of 'Controlled Statements' as a means of constructing a project report is new. Here we explain some of the principles behind them and the practical implications that these principles give rise to. An example of the use of these statements within EWP is provided at our Exhiibition Workbooks webpage.

Find your way around this Web Page

Main Headings

Advice Points

Controlled Statement' types - descriptions

Diagrams and pictures

What is a 'Controlled Statement'?

Short paragraphs for 'Controlled Statements

Systems Description

Standard order of links - diagram

'Controlled Statement' Types

'Controlled Statements' primary role in reports

Risk

Links for Systems Descriptions - diagram

Linking 'Controlled Statements' - overview

Keep to linear linked series

Audit Finding

Branched Audit Findings and Recommendations - diagram

What is a 'link'?

Simple approach to Systems Description

Audit Query

Multiple Recommendations - diagram

Where to start?

New statements preferable to branching

Conclusion

Clear an Audit Query - form image

Ending a series of 'Controlled Statements'

 

Recommendation

View of cleared 'Audit Query' - spreadsheet image

Audit Query - a special case

 

 

Uncleared Audit Queries working paper - spread sheet image

Viewing and Managing the Links

 

 

View of 'Controlled Statement' on working paper- spreadsheet image

Find start of linked series

 

 

Managing 'Controlled Statements' view of links snapshot - form image

Find end of linked series

 

 

View of various branched series and their related print orders - diagram

Changing links

 

 

Layout of Table of Recommendations - spreadsheet image

Impact of Branching on Print Order

 

 

 

Creating Summary Tables of Recommendations

 

 

 

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What is a 'Controlled Statement'?

It is a space on and ACBA-EWP working paper where the auditor records an important single issue, that he or she wishes to use later in the final report. Each 'Controlled Statement' is outlined with light borders within a heavier bordered area on a working paper. The heavier bordered area contains information on the statement type, author, date & time of creation and status of the statement. Details of the 'Controlled Statement' are also stored separately by the ACBA EWP package.

ACBA Advisory Point No 1

The issue should be brief, no more than a short paragraph. If you need two paragraphs use two 'Controlled Statements' and link them together.

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'Controlled Statement' types - why have them?

There are 6 types of 'Controlled Statement': Systems Description, Risk, Audit Finding, Audit Query, Conclusion and Recommendation. Each statement type is programmed to have slightly different characteristics. These characteristics are designed to encourage careful and logical development of audit ideas and the subsequent reporting of them. All the statement types are used in various automatic processes to help summarize and review the audit work. The diagram below shows the expected order of 'Controlled Statement' types in the linkage series.

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Linking 'Controlled Statements' - what is this about?

The process of linking 'Controlled Statements' is the essential engine which drives all the subsequent functionality of ACBA-EWP. It is built around the concept the groups (or series) of linked statements that will provide the primary building blocks for an audit report.

ACBA Advisory Point No 2

Do not create a 'Controlled Statement' (other than an Audit Query) unless you are reasonably sure that you will want it later in the audit report. Otherwise this can create unnecessary work and effort.

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What is a 'link'?

It is an easy process whereby the user establishes a logical relationship between one 'Controlled Statement' and another.

  • Links look backwards.
  • Each 'Controlled Statement' has only one 'link' available to it

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The above diagram shows the expected order of links between 'Controlled Statement' types in full (i.e. a single line of links without any branches using all the 'Controlled Statement' types). The process of linking the various 'Controlled Statement' is designed to encourage full audit reporting - not simply the 'Conclusions' or 'Recommendations' without the essential rationale that lead to them. Nevertheless there are various shortened chains or stand alone 'Controlled Statements' that are also permitted.

Branched links as shown below are permitted, but branching has a tendency to make managing the links unnecessarily complicated and has an impact on the order of printing which needs to be taken into account. The alternative approach of creating a completely new linear linked series is often preferable.

ACBA Advisory Point No 3

As far as is practicable, keep to un-branched linkage series.

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Where to start?

Systems Description

The natural programmed starting point is statement type Systems Description. While the name may suggest that you have to write out the system in full, this is not the intention. Treat the statement type as your scene setter. It could, for example, describe how you approached a particularly important audit test.

You are permitted to link Systems Description statements back to other Systems Description statements in either linear or branched formats, but not to any other type of 'Controlled Statement'.

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There may be very exceptional occasions when the branched approach has real advantages over creating two separate linear series. However, such advantages have to be very significant indeed before they out weigh the kind of complexity that you will introduce in the management of your linked series by branching at such an early stage.

Remember that much can be done to draw broader concepts together when setting the order and headings of the final report. ACBA-EWP offers enormous flexibility over handling these aspects when you get to that stage.

ACBA Advisory Point No 4

Keep your Systems Description (scene setting) as simple as practicable (i.e. avoid branching).

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Risk

The use of the Risk 'Controlled Statement' is optional. It is not a required part of the linkage series. However, if you do want to include a Risk statement it must be linked back to a Systems Description. Risks cannot be posted on their own.

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Audit Finding

Normally Audit Findings are posted with links either to Systems Descriptions or Risks, but can also be posted on their own. They can in effect become the starting point for a linked series.

Branching at this juncture will be much more common because if an Audit Finding gives rise to a recommendation, the Recommendation 'Controlled Statement' will automatically end that line of the branch. The only way to continue with the discussion of audit findings related to the Systems Description is to create a branch - see below.

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You will appreciate that you need to exercise a degree of care and self discipline when introducing branched statements. The complexity of the branches can get out of hand making the process of managing and following your links very difficult.

ACBA Advisory Point No 5

If in doubt about whether a branch is appropriate start a new statement series afresh.

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Ending a series of 'Controlled Statements'

Conclusion

As the name implies, 'Controlled Statements' of this type this is will draw a linked series to a close. Also, like Risk it cannot be posted on its own. It must be linked to the related Systems Description, Risk or Audit Finding.

More precisely, however, it draws a specific branch of a linked series to a close, with the exception that you can link an over arching Recommendation back to a Conclusion. No other 'Controlled Statements' types can be linked to a Conclusion.

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Recommendation

A Recommendation must be linked to either an Audit Finding or a Conclusion. It cannot be posted on its own.

No other 'Controlled Statement' type can be linked to a Recommendation. Therefore this also has the effect of bringing a specific branch of a linked series to a close. In the case that you wish to make more than one Recommendation to improve control, then you can use the branching facility - as below.

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Audit Query - a special case

Audit Query

The Audit Query has a single very specific function; the identification of a problem which requires resolution before the project can be completed. It is particularly useful for managerial review.

The expectation is that the query will be resolved and cleared away before report stage. For this reason Audit Queries must start the linked series. They cannot be linked to any other statement. Accordingly, the full meaning of the query must be apparent within the self contained statement.

The standard process for clearing an Audit Query is to create an answering Audit Finding which is linked back to the original Query. In these circumstances ACBA EWP automatically assumes that such an Audit Finding will clear the associated Query. To override this you must specifically uncheck the 'Clear Query Check' box. See below.

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A cleared Audit Query always carries a hyperlink in bold red to the answering Audit Finding. Therefore it is not essential to post the finding visibly close to the query. In the example below they are posted together for clarity.

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The ACBA-EWP package monitors Audit Queries. You can print out a list of uncleared queries at any stage during the audit by clicking on 'QryList' - right hand side of short cut tool bar. It is presented in the format of a new working paper and is indexed in the usual way. See below.

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The most important time to do this is just prior to the review of individual modules, since this establishes the likely chunks that will be the basis for the audit report. All uncleared Audit Queries will be treated as reportable items.

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Creating or Inserting a 'Controlled Statement'

The system only allows 'Controlled Statements' to be posted on to indexed working papers.  Clicking on ICS from the ACBA shortcut tool bar will present the form as shown below.

It is divided into 2 halves. The right hand side controls the text, type and status of your 'Controlled Statement'. Whereas the left hand side is used to link back to another statement. This is the main way in which 'Controlled Statement' chains or series are created.

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You may note the that you have the opportunity to link to another 'Controlled Statement' anywhere within your audit project. Use the Module, Sub-section and Working Paper drop down to alter scope of the 'Controlled Statements' you wish to view/link to. ACBA-EWP only allows you to view those statements that you are permitted to link to, based on the type of your new statement.

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Viewing the Links

The links between 'Controlled Statements' are posted onto the working papers using coloured hyperlinks. The colours and the position of the hyperlinks indicate whether they point forward or backward along the chain.

  • Hyperlinks in column 2 coloured purple look back to the beginning of the chain
  • Hyperlinks in column 4 coloured green (teal) look forward to the end of the chain
  • Hyperlinks in column 3 coloured standard blue show that the statement has been cleared through Module Layer Review
  • Hyperlinks in column 3 coloured bright red show that this Audit Query has been answered and point to the Audit Finding that clears it.

See above and below

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How do I find the start of the linked series?

Click on the the purple hyperlink in column2 of the 'Controlled Statement' until you find a statement that contains no link - see the Systems Description in the diagram above.

How do I work my way to the end of the linked series?

Similarly, click on the teal hyperlink in column 4 of the 'Controlled Statement' until you find a statement with no link. There may be more than one link available in this column. This indicates that the series has multiple branches.

How do I change the links?

Call 'M1CS' from the ACBA short cut tool bar. Note that this form is very similar to the 'Enter a New "Controlled Statement"' form. You are only permitted to change the link backwards. To do this use the spinner button in the linked statement frame.

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You may link your statement to any other permitted statement type within the project. To view statements from other modules or subsections select the appropriate items from the drop down lists.

Sometimes you will want to unlink a statement - remember that this is only allowable for Audit Findings and Systems Descriptions. There is always a blank item at either end of the spinner button journey. Selecting this blank effectively unlinks your 'Controlled Statement'.

Prohibited moves are automatically prevented by the system.

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Impact of Branching on Print Order

There are a number of variables which affect the print order. Here we only seek to give a flavour of the basic principles and rules.

Linearly linked series are easy because the print order is always obvious. Where branches occur the algorithm follows these rules.

Rule 1

The print order for the primary branch is always set first and completed to the end of its series.

Rule 2

The print order algorithm looks incrementally back through the series for branch and decides on their relative priority. The algorithm always seeks to print the full branch together.

Here is what it means in practice. The following diagrams show a variety of typical branches, but they are designed to show the order in which the statements will print across the page.

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Creating summary Tables of Recommendations

Once you have completed your project you can automatically prepare a working paper in the form of a Table of Recommendations by clicking on the 'TabRec' button on the Short Cut Tool bar. The working paper below is based on the default ACBA lay out.

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You can however create you own layout. This is particularly useful if you want to link the recommendations to the associated risks. Use the form below to adjust the column headings and their related content.

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This will now give the following table. It looks a little squashed so that you can see all the columns to the view, it will not normally appear so.

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Last updated 10 October 2016

 

 

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