State Department Federal Credit Union

State Department Federal Credit Union

Case Study

The Background

SDFCU is a member-owned, full-service financial institution that is committed to serving over 86,000 members worldwide. With $1.9 Billion in assets, SDFCU offers a wide range of financial products and special services that address the diverse and unique needs of its members all around the globe.

The Challenge

Critical to its business is the need to manage its internal audit processes efficiently, effectively and transparently, to ensure robust financial and operational risk management and audit compliance.
The SDFCU has an internal audit function responsible for internal audit practices, as well as overseeing the activities of the financial statement auditor and their reporting. Using a co-sourced staffing model, internal audit contracts with several audit firms to accomplish its Annual Audit Plan.

“Sword GRC has developed work system approaches and solutions for us to enable different audit contractors to deliver their work products through Sword Audit Manager. SDFCU wanted a consistent overview of all audit documents, with workflows that would streamline processes and the ability to record all changes, updates, and approvals.”
Michael Hunter
Managing Director of Internal Audit, SDFCU

The Solution

SDFCU chose Sword Audit Manager (formerly Galileo) for the wide range of features available to manage the workflows and documents in its complex audit processes. SDFCU wanted to utilize the full functionality of the software; so it ensured that during set up and implementation that the business units created in the system accurately reflected its organizational structure.

Activities were input that matched their own tasks and processes, while the timesheet booking feature is also used to ensure that time spent by individuals and teams is tracked against project budget codes. Using the reports, Internal Audit can analyze time and variances by team, person, activity, task, and period.

Streamlined workflows for audit processes

One of the key benefits for SDFCU whilst using the software has been the integration with both Word and Excel documents, and the ability to create templates to match their specific requirements. The integration enables the audit team to extract data from their system and populate fields within Word templates that already have standard organizational, date and version information – from announcement memos to conference and meeting agendas.  Using one central system streamlines workflows, ensures the accuracy of data, and saves significant amounts of time in document creation. Paper-based records and document copies are now no longer required, with the entire workflow and revisions documented electronically. The business has eliminated the need for paper loose-leaf notebook audit binders.

Cloud-based solution for flexibility and scalability

SDFCU currently has 40 licenses for use by its internal managers and directors, and four co-sourcing audit firms. It chose the cloud-based version (software as a service) of Sword Audit Manager to provide the flexibility and ease of managing upgrades, patches, and changes. Also, the institution seeks to reduce the number of servers that it manages.

“We opted for the encrypted cloud-based solution so that it is accessible from any location and independent of our IT network, which makes it easy to add users, whether inside or external to the organization. This supports our plans to engage more external audit contractors in the future,” explained Mr. Hunter.

Michael Hunter

The system also provides the option to integrate with the Sword Operational Risk Manager (Magique) risk management module to support a risk-based audit methodology, part of SDFCU’s future plans. As the Managing Director of Internal Audit Office, Michael Hunter is already involved with the organization’s enterprise risk management (ERM) activities – currently providing ERM advisory services and reporting reports to the SDFCU Enterprise Risk Management Committee and to the Board of Directors.

Personalised dashboards for easy tracking of actions

A key benefit of Sword Audit Manager is the ability to personalise the dashboards for individuals and managers to check actions and monitor updates.  There is total transparency regarding actions assigned to management and for follow-up by designated audit staff.

The business is also an advocate of the flagging feature that can be built into the workflows, to show the status of a report or document for review or required completion date – as Michael explains. “A great benefit is the alerts and notifications to let owners know that they have an action due or that there is a status update request. It gives complete transparency – I can see everything that was issued as an action, reviewer comments, and where it sits.

“With my personal dashboard, I will be able to incorporate the work of external co-sourced contractors, document owners, and their activity. I am already more informed as to what is being developed or whether we are waiting for a draft report or discussion.”, explained Mr. Hunter.

Michael Hunter

The Results

With overall efficiencies as one of the key benefits, the SDFCU audit team has seen additional tangible results in the new working processes.

Streamlined workflows, standardized documents, and accurate tracking of revisions have resulted in a comprehensive, accurate audit compliance model.  Adopting best practices through its integrated compliance and audit management system enables SDFCU to meet its regulatory requirements and blend an efficient internal audit team seamlessly with specialist co-sourced contractors – the best of both worlds.

Since implementing Sword Audit Manager to manage our audit and compliance documents, we have reaped huge benefits. Anecdotally, I would say we have increased efficiencies by at least 30%.”, concludes Michael Hunter.

Michael Hunter

Key Benefits

  • ‘One-stop-shop’ for documentation with accurate and up to the minute record of SDFU’s working documents available.
  • Standardised papers and processes significantly reduce staff administration time.
  • The cloud-based solution enables ‘anytime, anywhere’ working, including external audit teams.
  • User-specific on-screen dashboards meet the needs of different individuals to highlight issues, items to review or update.
  • Built-in audit report and action tracking and custom reporting enable the internal audit team and external contractors to work from a single, shared system.
  • Custom reports provide an accurate audit trail of document revisions exactly to SDFCU manager requirements.
  • KPIs and statistics ensure key data is complete and that audit documents are on track.