​​Powering Productivity

Internal Auditor's Emerging Leaders are embracing apps that enhance their work and personal lives in the digital age. ​

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​Whether in a restaurant, coffee shop, or doctor's office, if you look around, you'll most likely see people with their faces glued to their phones, immersed in scrolling Facebook or Instagram, texting or emailing, or catching up on news headlines. In fact, the number of people who now own smartphones is astounding — 92 percent of Millennials, followed by 85 percent of Gen Xers and 67 percent of Baby Boomers, according to analysis of data from the Pew Research Center.

With smartphones come apps, which number in the millions for Android and iPhone users. Anyone could stay busy on their phone for hours, or until his or her battery dies, paying bills online, emailing family or co-workers, and checking various social media accounts. The average person opens approximately nine apps a day according to a 2017 report from App Annie, Spotlight on Consumer App Usage. The types and categories of apps are wide-ranging and we wanted to know which ones internal auditors are using. We asked Internal Auditor's Emerging Leaders to tell us about the apps they're using for work and play and what their favorites are. Answers varied, but several floated to the top.

Travel and Expenses

Internal auditors who travel for work are often in and out of airports, catching connecting flights, dealing with rental cars, and using GPS or maps to find their way to hotels and audit sites. Jamie White (2016 Emerging Leader), an environment, health, and safety performance risk management consultant with Trinity Consultants in Raleigh, N.C., travels almost weekly for her job, so having a good travel app is critical. She uses FlightAware and American Airlines to help her figure out if her flight has been delayed or cancelled, or determine if she's going to miss a connection. White does a lot of international travel as well, so one of her favorite apps is Maps.me because "it allows you to download maps of international locations to your phone and then use them without connecting to the internet because that can get expensive," she says.

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Traveling on the job usually involves filling out expense reports and providing copies of receipts to be reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses. Many of our Emerging Leaders are using various apps that scan and PDF receipts for this very reason, such as iScan, TurboScan, and Genius Scan. Shakeya McDow (2014 Emerging Leader), executive director of compliance strategy at Kaiser Foundation Hospitals & Health Plan Inc. in Oakland, Calif., uses iSpent to upload receipts into her company's reporting system. The app can also track and split expenses among colleagues — and roommates or travel companions.

Another app mentioned multiple times, whether used during work travel or in daily life, is Waze. It's a favorite of Michael Levy's (2013 Emerging Leader), director of internal audit at Student Transportation Inc. in Wall Township, N.J. "This app has saved me countless hours of time by identifying traffic ahead and rerouting me, which no other service could do," he says. "Because it's community based, the app often is aware of traffic pattern changes instantly once it's reported by a user — something not many other navigation tools can do."

Productivity and Organization

Staying organized and managing an often-growing list of to-do items can be overwhelming, so apps that can help manage day-to-day life​ and work projects can come in handy. Note-taking apps, such as GoodNotes, help to simplify daily work for Justin Pawlowski (2015 Emerging Leader), head of internal audit at ALSO Holding AG in Emmen, Switzerland. "It enables me to use my tablet at work and to increase productivity by digitizing my notetaking and leveraging my notes to a much higher extent than when I took physical notes or none at all." The app can convert handwriting into text and even makes handwritten notes searchable.

Olivier Beauregard (2014 Emerging Leader), senior audit director at Investment Québec, is among many Emerging Leaders who use Wunderlist to manage personal and professional to-do lists. "I visit it at least three times a day to prioritize and add ideas," Beauregard says. "It's the modern version of the Post-It, shared with my team." The Wunderlist app lets you set reminders and create various to-do lists that can be shared with friends, family, or colleagues.

Bridging the Communication Gap

For Maja Milosavljevic (2015 Emerging Leader), senior group internal auditor at Sberbank Europe AG in Vienna, a language translation app facilitates auditing in any country without having to worry about the language barrier. "The Scan & Translate app enables me to get the translation of any text into a selected language by uploading a photo of the text into the application, in only a few seconds." Milosavljevic says.

"Microsoft Teams helps me still collaborate with my audit teams when I'm on the go," says Matt Beachnau (2015 Emerging Leader), senior manager at Protiviti in Indianapolis. "I can still have group chat discussions, review files, and provide timely contributions to the team's efforts if I'm away from my laptop." Also mentioned were Google Drive and Slack for file sharing and collaboration with teams.

Networking

Overall, LinkedIn was named more than any other app as a favorite of Emerging Leaders. "I use it for recruitment, to identify and research potential staff to join my team," says Louis Seabrooke (2014 Emerging Leader), acting director general, internal audit and evaluation directorate, at the Canada Revenue Agency.  

Pawlowski also uses LinkedIn to stay in touch with professionals and share views and opinions on hot topics. "These days, I especially appreciate the posts on applying modern technology in internal auditing and smart finance," he says.

Finding professionals and staying in touch with past colleagues is a reason Bill Stahl (2017 Emerging Leader), manager of advisory services at EY in Atlanta, also uses LinkedIn. But he finds it especially useful when preparing for audits. "I often use it before I meet with someone to see if we have similar connections, backgrounds, or interests so I can more easily build a relationship."

Alex Rusate (2017 Emerging Leader), senior associate, risk consulting, IT Audit and Assurance, at KPMG in Albany, N.Y., sees LinkedIn as a great tool for connecting with internal auditors around the world to share best practices and help mentor the next generation. "It is great to see how generous other internal auditors are with their time," he says. "For example, I had a question for Norman Marks after reading a blog post of his so I reached out to him via the LinkedIn app and he got back to me immediately that weekend."

Apps as Life Hacks

The apps mentioned for personal use run the gamut from health tracking, shopping, finances, entertainment and music to news gathering and social media. 

Seth Peterson (2013 Emerging Leader), internal audit manager at The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, S.D., uses the activity tracker Strava to track the distance, duration, and speed of his biking and running. "It links directly to MyFitnessPal app to calculate the calories burned," he says. "They have various segments created that allow you to compete against anyone else with the app for time or compete against yourself. There's also a social media component to see what your friends are doing and to post pictures of your activities."

Online banking apps and money transfer apps such as Zelle and Venmo were frequently mentioned, as well as the financial management app Mint. For Valentina Kostenyuk (2015 Emerging Leader), senior internal auditor at Avangrid Renewables in Portland, it provides an overview of her finance-related activities because it's linked to her debit card, credit cards, and 401(k) accounts. "I can review all of my transactions in real time to ensure there is no fraudulent or erroneous activity on my accounts," she says. "It's also linked to my budgeting activities and provides updates on budgets and bills due, as well as notifying me of updates on my credit score." 

The Castbox app for listening to podcasts is one of Rusate's favorites. "It allows me to develop my knowledge and has the flexibility to use it on the go," he says. "My favorite podcast is called Risktory, which talks about history and how risk management strategies have shaped it. I also subscribe to other channels such as 'Planet Money' from National Public Radio and 'Advice Worth Keeping' from KPMG." Other entertainment apps mentioned include Pandora, Spotify, Google Music, iTunes, Audible, Podkicker Pro, RadioApp, and YouTube.

The photo-sharing app Instagram is also commonly used by many of our Emerging Leaders. Jade Lee (2013 Emerging Leader), director, internal audit and ERM at AltaLink in Calgary, Alberta, uses it to stay connected with friends and family. "It has become more interactive with stories and direct messaging," she says. "I sometimes use Instagram messaging in place of regular text messaging. It's a good mental break from other tasks and also a good source of instant news."

"I'm just in it for the pictures," says Anne Davis (2017 Emerging Leader), senior consultant at Deloitte in Charlotte, N.C. "I also follow a variety of news channels and like the daily update of current events."

Jessica Minshew (2017 Emerging Leader), compliance specialist at CCA and B in Atlanta, regularly uses the Disney World app. "Even when not visiting the parks, you can see what is going on, plan your next trip, shop the gift shops for home delivery, and they are rolling out an augmented reality expansion tool," she says. "It's fun to check out and get excited for your next vacation."

App Loyalty

Apps can certainly help users navigate their work and personal life more easily — that is, if it's an app that is used more than once. Many apps are downloaded and used just a handful of times before being forgotten and never used again. So, what turns a person into a regular user of a particular app?

Meghan Patronella (2014 Emerging Leader), senior internal auditor at San Antonia Water System in Texas, says she doesn't have a favorite app because they all fit specific needs. "Do not flood me with useless notifications or make things require more steps than necessary," she says. "For example, if you can remind me of something with the right amount of time before an action needs to be taken, you will have a forever user in me." ​

Shannon Steffee
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About the Author

 

 

Shannon SteffeeShannon Steffee<p>​Shannon Steffee is <em>Internal Auditor</em>'s senior editor. </p>https://iaonline.theiia.org/authors/Pages/Shannon-Steffee.aspx

 

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