Book Review: “Excel for Auditors” by Bill Jelen & Dwayne K. Dowell
There are still a good number of Auditors in the field who are technologically challenged. These folks may even be unfamiliar with the ACL product and cringe at the idea of having to analyze AP or AR tables when provided in database or spreadsheet format. I have met a good number of these people and found that in many cases their “analytics phobia” is due to poor or non-existing training in basic Auditor analytical skills. However, these folks almost all have some basic to intermediate level Excel spreadsheet capabilities which can be used as the basis for training them in more sophisticated analytical methods. The Excel for Auditors book, from Holy Macro! Books, provides a perfect tool to teach new auditors and technologically challenged ones, some key high value Excel functions.
Using the book as a training outline, accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation, I developed an intermediate level training class of two two hour sessions, which successfully helped many new auditors break their fears of spreadsheet analytics and taught a few old dogs new tricks.
Ofcourse, most of the Excel functions presented in the book are found in ACL’s integrated environment, and those who have ACL should instead focus on using that product, but for those who do not have ACL, the best option is to use a spreadsheet like Excel (and develop good analytical skills in it).
Excel for Auditors is 212 pages and contains the following chapters:
- Copying a Worksheet
- Showing Numbers in Thousands
- Quickly Seeing Sum or Average
- Adding Subtotals
- Quickly Filling a Series
- Using a Fixed Value in your Formula
- Replacing a THousand Formulas with One
- Highlighting Outliers
- Turning your Data on its Side with Transpose
- Joining Text
- Looking up Data
- Sorting your Data
- Dealing with Dates
- Analyzing Data with Pivot Tables
- Analyzing Results by Date
- Creating a Random Sample from a Datasheet
- Finding and Analyzing Records Using AutoFilter
- Formula Auditing
- Matching Two Lists
- Finding Duplicates or Unique Values
- Finding Missing Dates in Data
- Automating Excel with VBA
I recommend the book as a training tool and as a reference to keep in an audit library. If used properly, it can help the technologically challenged auditor to overcome some of his/her fears of Excel analytics and that by itself is an extremely valuable thing.
Excel for Auditors is not intended to be a power user’s book. If you are a user who enjoys writing Visual Basic scripts well past midnight, if you’re a Nerd or a tinkerer/techie, then this book is not for you. Excel power users are usually insulted by books under 300 pages and do not consider an application “well covered” unless the book is at least 974 pages long! Most auditors I know are not Nerds, tinkerers or techies and simply need a quick and to the point aid on how to achieve results, and this book does that well.
The book can be purchased from the Today’s Audit Journal bookstore for under $20.00.