Automated Risk and Control Monitoring at City of Lethbridge

“The return on investment on this is very quick; I would say less than a year. And in my opinion, you’re getting a bang for the buck out of the software right away.”

Darrell Mathews, CPA, CMA, CIA

Financial Processes & Controls Manager,
City of Lethbridge

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The City of Lethbridge is an urban municipality in Alberta, Canada. With gross revenues of $429 million, the city provides services to 100,000 residents and is the commercial, financial, transportation, and industrial center of southern Alberta.

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Interview with Darrell Mathews, CPA, CMA, CIA, Financial Processes & Controls Manager, City of Lethbridge.

The City of Lethbridge is an urban municipality in southern Alberta. We are approximately two and a half hours south of Calgary and about one and a half hours north of the Montana border. We’re approximately 100,000 population. We’re pretty excited about hitting that 100,000 mark.

What are some of the risks you manage?

Definitely some of the challenges are that we have 36 different unique business units. So, we have everything from fire operations, police operations, to utility operations. So really, in all intents and purposes, we have a very wide range of business activities, so we also have a wide range of business risks that the organization has to monitor and maintain controls over.

Why did you invest in the ACL platform?

From an investment standpoint, I can see the turnaround on this very, very quick. One of the things that we want to do is be able to send out those policy and training surveys. That alone, right there, is worth our initial investment into the software. Not to mention that we’ve been able to totally automate our control risk matrixes and then attach them to projects that we’re reviewing on those individual controls. So, the return on investment on this is very quick; I would say less than a year. And in my opinion, you’re getting a bang for the buck out of the software right away.

How has the ACL platform changed the way you work?

So now, we’re going from paper-based controls or manual reconciliations, and we’re really going into automation of continuous controls monitoring. And that also includes looking at centralizing our documentation of internal controls. So, it’s not siloed in the business process areas in our organization.

How has it changed how you work with your stakeholders?

From a stakeholder’s standpoint, it’s interesting now. We get a lot of knocks on our door from people saying, “Can ACL do this?” And so, from business-process owners out in the field, we’ve learned that it’s not just about internal controls; the software can also go out and automate business process and workflow. And that becomes very interesting to our business process owners or our business managers out in the field, because many of our ERP systems, they couldn’t necessarily get the information or summarise information from multiple databases to be able to get that answer that they wanted. And so, they’ll be knocking on our doors and asking us, “Well, can ACL go and pull this information together and send it to me?” and the answer is, “Yes.”

How have you found working with ACL GRC?

One of the things that we’ve really enjoyed (at least, my team’s really enjoyed) with the GRC module is the ease of use of setting it up. We’re fairly new into the GRC system. And actually, even that tells you something, where we’re comfortable going in and actually creating new result collections or even new activities inside of that program. And it’s very user-friendly for the staff. You don’t have to be an IT professional to figure it out, and it’s designed from a functional user’s perspective.

What would you say to somebody considering the software?

Really, if you’re looking into going down this road, the first question you have to ask yourself is “can you really do without it nowadays?” And I would think that’s probably a challenge for most organizations. And if they really look in the mirror, they need something to be able to go in and look at their data and really look at the entire 100% population of that data, and not just sampling the data, to really be able to be comfortable to answer those questions that they’re asked by their auditors, their stakeholders, or their city councils if they’re in a government or municipal government setting.