ACL Certified Professional

Automating & streamlining your review process in Projects

In last month’s ACP webinar, we learned how to create our own ACL GRC playground. Our ACL experts also showed us how to create a new project by using an ACL template and bulk uploading risk and controls into the project. In this month’s newsletter, we are going to focus on how to automate and streamline your review process using these two handy features, Sign-off and To-Do.

Does this sound familiar? “I find myself constantly emailing back and forth with team members to review and approve my work. I find it very hard to keep track of these emails. What can I do to avoid this?”

You can now say goodbye to emails and say hello to the Sign-off feature in Projects! Once you have completed a section, such as executing a procedure, you can simply sign-off on your work and submit it to the next reviewer to inspect and sign-off on the work. This feature appears on multiple screens within the Projects module. There are three levels of review:

Review Level Description
Preparer Select this if you have been tasked with preparing the material, and your work is complete
Detail Reviewer Select this if you have been tasked with providing the detailed review of the material produced by the preparer
General Reviewer Select this if you have been tasked with providing a general review of the material produced by the preparer

*You can remove a sign-off by clicking the Remove sign-off link beside the appropriate reviewer.

When a preparer signs off on an item, sign-off locking will be enabled where it locks down edits and puts the page into read-only mode for all users except the Next Reviewer or users who have Professional Manager role. Sign-off locking is only available at the individual item, such as planning files, procedures, narratives, walkthroughs, test plans, testing rounds, and Results files. In order to edit an individual item after sign-off, the Preparer sign-off must be removed by the Next Reviewer or by a user assigned the Professional Manager role. Once a sign-off is complete, the field is stamped with the user name and date.

Check out our Help Docs for the steps on how to sign-off on your work >>

“What if I am a reviewer and noticed there are errors or omissions with the project work? Do I have to email them to correct the errors?”

No, you can rely on the To-Do feature to help you collaborate with your teammates and reviewers. You can also use this feature to set up reminders for yourself or others, and create review notes. When you assign a To-Do, the To-Do is added to your Project To-Do List as well as the Project To-Do List of the assignee. The person assigned the To-Do is notified via email and is able to update the To-Do and post a comment. However, if you assign the To-Do to yourself, you will not receive the email notification. If you post a comment on a To-Do, the assignee is notified via email. Similarly, if the assignee posts a comment, you will be notified via email. Important note: each To-Do task can only be assigned to one user at a time. There are three To-Do statuses:

Status Description
Open This is an automatically assigned status that displays when you create and assign a To-Do
Clear This status displays when you confirm that the To-Do is complete and is ready to be closed
Closed This status displays when you close the To-Do

Here’s a quick tip: If you don’t have the access to override the sign-off as a reviewer, you create a To-Do task for the preparer to follow up.

Check out our Help Docs on how to create, assign and update a To-Do >>

Let’s take a look at an example scenario

Mary is a staff auditor and has just executed a procedure. She records the outcome in the Procedure Results box of the Execute Procedures page, selects Issues Noted from the Issues drop-down, and signs off on the procedure as the Preparer, which locks the procedure. Mary then sets Olivia, her Audit Supervisor, as the next reviewer (Detailed Reviewer).

Olivia reviews the procedure, and after reading through the Results content, realizes that the Results content is lacking in detail and explanation. Olivia removes Mary’s sign-off as preparer (unlocking the procedure), adds her review note requesting that Olivia expand on the Procedure Results content as a To-Do item, and assigns the To-Do to Mary. Mary receives the review note, updates the Results content in the procedure as requested, signs-off again as Preparer (re-locking the procedure), and once again sets Olivia as the next reviewer. Olivia re-reviews the updated procedure, signs off as Detailed Reviewer, and then sets Kim, the Audit Manager, as General Reviewer.

As Kim reviews the procedure, new information comes to light that impacts the documented result. Kim, who has Audit Manager access rights, removes the Preparer sign-off to unlock the procedure and adds her review note as a To-Do for Mary. Mary makes the change to the audit procedure, signs-off once more as the Preparer, and sets Olivia as the next reviewer, restarting the review & sign-off workflow.

Now that you learned more about the Sign-off and To-Do features, give them a try in your review process and stop relying on emails as your primary collaboration tool!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions for the Projects module:

1. When creating a project, which workflow should I choose?

  • Workflows define the components available in a project. When choosing a workflow, you should consider:
    • the type of project you want to create
    • whether the project is simple or complex
  • There are two workflows available in Projects:
Workflow Description
Workplan Appropriate for straight-forward projects, which consist of a set of steps or procedures that the assurance team will execute, and the documentation of the outcome of each step
Internal Control Appropriate for more complex types of projects where narratives are defined, walkthroughs are performed to verify control design, and tests are performed to verify the operating effectiveness of controls

2. How do I record details about control design or capture testing results?

  • To record details about control design, you can use the Walkthroughs page
  • To capture testing results, you can use the Testing page

3. How do I follow-up on issues?

  • You can add actions to issues using the Follow-up & Remediation subtab on the Issues Details page, and assign action items to stakeholders in order to identify follow-up measures for remediating a particular business area. You can also set up reminders for yourself to retest issues or track hours spent on retesting by self-assigning actions.

4. How do I manage timesheets in Projects?

  • Audit, SOX, Compliance, and professional service organizations often need to track time spent on the project and outside of the project for reporting purposes. The most efficient way to enter time and manage timesheets is by using the Timesheets page. Learn more about how to manage timesheets in our Help Docs >>

Tip of the Month

Often you are dealing with multiple projects at the same time and various tasks will appear at different project stages and times. How can you keep up with all these tasks? Here comes Task Tracker to the rescue! The Task Tracker allows you to view your work for all of your assigned projects in a single, centralized location. You can update and track:

  • To-Dos you are responsible for across all projects
  • To-Dos you have assigned to other users across all projects
  • Requests across all projects
  • Reviews across all projects

You can find the Task Tracker, under the Organization Results section, on the right side panel in the Projects homepage.

Product Release

Check out this month’s new and enhanced features in Projects:


Learn more best practices and how to make the most out of your ACL technology at ACL Connections, September 24-27 in Nashville, TN. This event features four days of training and offers 21.5 CPE credits. Access the full event details here >>

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ACP Bootcamp Series News

Interested to see a live demo on how to automate and streamline your review process in Projects? Come join our ACL experts for our ACP Bootcamp webinar on Thursday, August 24th! Register here >>

Did you miss previous editions of the blog? Don’t worry, just visit here to check out the past editions.

In the next edition, we will be looking into how to set up incident/whistleblower hotlines in Results.