In this third year of CFO’s Tech Companies to Watch, we found a notable shift in the applications being offered by vendors. In every functional area of the companies that made our annual list — process management, recruiting, travel expenses, receivables management, and compliance among them — the goal is unearthing the real story behind the data to make more intelligent decisions.

The entirety of the list appears in the April/May 2019 edition of CFO magazine. We are revealing the first 10 companies on CFO.com, one per day. Our first five tech companies to watch were FortressIQ, Behavox, Completed.com, Yaypay, and Yapta. Today, we look at AuditBoard, an audit management and compliance solution.

AuditBoard

GRC Upstart

For many years, businesses have embraced software platforms for managing key disciplines like enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management. Governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) software? Not so much—even though the first such systems were developed not long after their ERP and CRM counterparts.

AuditBoard is a relative newcomer in the field, so it has some catching up to do from a market share standpoint. But it’s attracting a lot of attention. Front and center is a $40 million B-round investment led by high-profile venture capital firm Battery Ventures, secured in August 2018. It has also landed the likes of Activision, Cornerstone, Exelon, Express Scripts, Lennar Homes, Lionsgate, Public Storage, HD Supply, TripAdvisor, and Truecar as customers.

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The company’s cloud-based GRC platform is designed to mostly eliminate the thousands of spreadsheets managed by internal audit departments. AuditBoard bills itself as having a “full suite” of audit management and compliance solutions for Sarbanes-Oxley, controls management, operational audits, enterprise risk management, and workflow management.

While far from the only player with a cloud system for managing audit, compliance, and risk, AuditBoard is winning acclaim for ease of use and responsive customer support, judging by posts on technology-product-review sites like G2 Crowd and Capterra.

The director of internal audit at a precious metals company says AuditBoard’s SOXHUB tool provides a one-stop real-time glance of the current status of a compliance process: “You don’t have to go to a different folder for test papers and supporting documents, then a different folder for narratives and another folder for walkthroughs.”

Daniel Kim, AuditBoard’s CEO, was a chief audit executive for two publicly held companies before co-founding the company. “We built the software from the ground up, designing it exactly for how auditors work,” says Kim. “The intuitive design is about knowing all the specific technical click-throughs that auditors make.”

AuditBoard may have a built-in advantage when it comes to ease of use. It was developed for the cloud, unlike some of the older, on-premises systems that have been reconfigured for the cloud. To address GRC, other vendors have reconfigured tools designed for other functions.

In any event, the efficiencies resulting from the elimination of spreadsheets and the user-friendly technology and design free up auditors’ time “to work on the strategic operational projects that the CFO wants,” according to Kim.

Internal audit is just one of three constituent GRC stakeholders for which the AuditBoard platform is designed. It also provides external auditors and company business units and process owners with a view into internal audit’s work, thereby facilitating collaboration. At the same time, each group’s experience in the system is tailored to its needs; likewise, AuditBoard provides dedicated training for each. Pricing is based on data usage rather than seat licensing; all three user groups get unlimited access to the system.

Kim doesn’t lack for ambition or confidence in AuditBoard’s future. “Over the next couple of years as we get to 2,000 clients, we’ll be the de facto leader in the audit compliance space,” he says.

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