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While out at a consulting engagement, one of your graduate staff members comes to you with the following question, 'I'm confused. Since I first studied AIS at uni, I have never really understood this concept of control . . . I mean what is the relationship among the control environment, organisational objectives and the internal control system?'
Prepare a one-page answer in response to the graduate's concerns.
You should include a description of what an internal control is, the relationship between internal control components, organisational objectives and the different divisions of the organisation, and a description of the control environment, general controls and application controls and how they relate to one another.
Classify the following control activities as general or application and explain your reasoning,
(a) Employees have a password to gain access to the system.
(b) When sales are entered the system retrieves customer details based on the customer number.
(c) A check is performed to identify if all cheques can be accounted for.
(d) Systems development is subject to signoff by the CIO before it can take place.
(e) Virus definitions are updated daily.
Below is a description of a business process.
The computer system requires all users to log on with a user identification (their first initial and the first six letters of their surname), and a password that is assigned to users when they join the firm (that is unable to be changed).
The users have access to the internet and several have installed Windows Live Messenger and other chat programs on their machines.
The main task of John, one of the staff members, is to perform data entry. Each day he receives a bundle of orders from the customer assistant, with John's job being to enter the details into the system.
John first enters the customer name, address and contact number then clicks on the 'Next' button to enter the items and quantities ordered by the customer.
If the customer name is not provided the computer will prompt John to go back and fill in the details before proceeding to the next screen. In addition, the computer will only accept numeric values for the quantities ordered.
Once all orders are entered John clicks the 'Done' button and the computer displays the number of orders entered on the screen.
John usually ignores this, because by the time orders have been entered it is usually lunch time.
(a) Identify four risks in the process.
(b) Suggest an internal control for each risk (the control may be mentioned in the case or missing and you think it should be applied).
(c) Indicate whether the control is present or missing in the case.
(d) Classify the control as general or application.
(e) Classify the control as manual or computerised.
In an organisational structure, an internal control is a process or procedure that is used for the purpose of achieving and measuring operational effectiveness and efficiency. An organisation implements internal controls with the objective of increasing accountability and complying with the regulatory frameworks (Spira 2003). The role of internal control factors in any organisation is very important in effectively directing organisational resources, keeping them under-monitoring and measuring their use.
Internal controls are most commonly set in an organisation by the accounting department and the controls set define how each other department has access to the resources, quantity of resources available and a monitoring of the way resources get used. In this manner, internal controls are important contributor in an organisation achieving its set objectives without avoidable delays, overspending or lack of resources (Fadzil 2005). As internal controls set resource usage and control measures on all departments, all individual processes get monitored for their timeliness, expected cost, and resource utilization; essentially ensuring that the organisational projects and objectives are achieved within budget and set timeline (Graham 2015). Setting up internal controls are designed to perform a strategic audit of the business organisational procedure, making it imperatively difficult for any fraudulent activity to take place in the organisation.
For highest efficiency in auditing of an organisation, adopting a complete control environment is a lucrative option for managers (Needles, Powers & Crosson 2010). A control environment refers to a collective of different internal controls deployed across different departments and operational procedures, with each of the internal controls targeting to – i) achieving the strategic objectives set for the organisation, and ii) generate an accurate and responsible financial reports to all stakeholders of the organisation, iii) introducing and retaining effectiveness and efficiency in the organisation, and iv) comply with all the relevant laws and regulations. Internal controls get classified into two different categories – general and application controls (Doyle, Ge & McVay 2007). General controls refer to the policies that define use and support for the individual accounting applications, such as – access security and control on data access. Application controls are more specific as this control relate specific to one specific application of accounting procedures.