Westpac Bank was a victim of data entry inaccuracies due to wrong data entry. The development of this case was that a customer needed a loan worth NZ$10,000. Due to human error resulting from entering the number as $10,000,000, this amount was erroneously transferred to customer’s account. In fact, wrong keying of the decimal point was the problem. Eventually, the bank experienced significant publicity and the employee who made the mentioned mistake relieved his duty. In another incident, NZ$4.3 million was almost sent to a client’s account rather that keying NZ$43,000. For this case, the transaction was never effected as only similar details had been sent by fax. Surprisingly, the bank outlines that it had controls in place to promote accuracy.
Evaluate the effectiveness of the data entry controls (both the manually performed and computer‐executed ones) in place at Westpac Banking Corporation.
At Westpac, the effectiveness of data control (both manually and computer-executed ones) are needed. There are many control measures that are generally overlooked by Westpac. One of these controls is authorization; and this majors in activities requiring execution of only authorized or approved personnel. A good example is procedures authorization that could include authorization from management in cases such as making large purchases or confirming the limit of credit for a customer before proceeding to serve them.
Another control is performance review that analyzes the performance of personal data. For instance, one would want to make a comparison of the actual and the budgeted figures checking items mark-ups. It includes taking into account the possible implications of profits and sales as well as performing bank reconciliation where the records of a business are checked with records from the bank.
Computerized effectiveness of the data entry at Westpac need to take account of proper information processing controls, and in this case, the type of policies as well as the procedures have to be put in place to ensure the data entered is very accurate. However, at Westpac, this has to be operated by authorized personnel.
Therefore, for the functionality of these measures, it is vital to link them to practical data processing to ensure effective accounting process. The need for these measures is to ensure mitigation of potential risks. In this way, Westpac Banking Corporation need to identify risk, make appropriate policies about the same, and address the eventual risk through control activities.
Evaluation of Data Entry Checks at Westpac Banking Corporation
Westpac Banking Corporation uses several data entry controls as checks. One of these mechanisms is the use of incremental backup that provides modified file or a new system regarding database management to replace the current one. Under this control, Westpac Corporation enters continuous data that has been slightly adjusted or not modified at all since the previous backup was made. According to Inglis, Morley, and Sammut (2008), whenever a full recovery is needed, the restoration process picks the last full backup as well as the incremented system all the way to the point of repair. It is notable that similar techniques are often desired since they assist to reduce the storage space used at Westpac Corporation database, making it even able to perform the intended differential backups.
Additionally, the fundamental form of incremental backup comprises an identification of data being entered by the employees of Westpac Corporation, recording by them and, eventually, preservation of only those files that have been vastly changed since the last backup process. By way of illustration, following a complete backup on a day like Friday, the backup of Monday will only consist of those files that were changed from the last day (Friday). Similarly, a backup of a day like Tuesday will only contain files that were changed from Monday, and the process follows a similar effect. Indeed, this explains the reasons as to why they are referred to as incremental. However, in a case when the previously created copies have errors, including the first one, the restoration will be completely impossible.
Another data entry control at Westpac Corporation is a differential backup approach that is almost similar to the incremental one in a way that it begins with full backing up of data entered and then picks the subsequent data backups that have been modified (Considine et al. 2010). The only difference here is that where the incremental method included the data entered and changed since the last time of entry, the differential backing up at Westpac Corporation is done in a way that it includes data changed since the previous retrieval.
The first demerit of the incremental data entry control approach at Westpac Corporation is the time consumed in restoration effect. For instance, whenever the entity wants to re-establish a Wednesday backup, it will have to retrieve the full backup from Monday. In its entirety, the plan is at risk. Assuming one of the files is either missing or entirely damaged, whether for Monday or Tuesday, it just means that updating cannot be complete by any means.
Various reasons help illustrate the reality that Westpac Corporation prefers this data entry approach. Indeed, its efficiency and that it only needs a short period to restore are good causes. When it comes to data matching, it is vital to develop a unique unified approach in which identification of common entity is made (Christen, 2012). For the Westpac case, compared to the incremental data entry approach that requires a greater number of tape sets, it never needs more than two tape sets. Alternatively, it should be realized that at this cooperation, differential data entry mechanism grows and attains a level in which it can be likened to the incremental backup.
All the above data entry control mechanisms applied at Westpac Corporation assist in the coordination and monitoring of the company. A similar effect is achieved through the high level of reporting as well as controlling existing data.
Pretend that you are part of the internal audit team at Westpac banking corporation and suggest some controls that you would put in place to reduce the likelihood of errors like this from occurring again in the future and explain how they would work.
As a part of the internal audit team at Westpac Corporation, there are several suggestions that one can make and devise to help reduce the likelihood of errors similar to the ones identified by the entity to occur again in the future. The organization should realize that if it makes use of the guidance of management which is principle-based, this will help it eliminate or at least reduce the risk of future errors. Below are some of the suggested areas of focus for Westpac Corporation to evade any chances of future mistakes.
Preventive controls are measures that can be put in place to handle any irregularity from occurrence. Management of risk remains inherent in every organization that wants to stay relevant in the world today that has a dynamic technology evolution, completion, specialization, and globalization. For Westpac Corporation to prevent risks from occurring again in the future, it is necessary to perform a top-down assessment of the risks involved in the business. A similar effort includes managing the uncertainties that the entity will manage on its journey to optimize its shareholder value.
For the preventive control approach, the organization can take the philosophy that it requires to identify the risks at a process, development, functional, business and finally, organizational unit level. The method consumes the resources taking all individual’s time. However, it can represent the most precise image of the risks and could be fully quantified. The risk approach is practiced where the risk is not commonly viewed at the level of an enterprise as of the strategic importance.
The preventive approach will lead to suboptimal solutions since insufficient data is at hand with the aim of identifying the exact nature of the risks as well as the necessary steps that should be done for mitigation exercises. The board articulation of risks, as well as the follow-up methods, might not always be very rigorous. The entire exercise could air as several people down that line receive messages that their management system is not very serious about managing the unforeseen risks. It should be noted with concern that the best approach is a combination in risk management for Westpac Corporation.
Risk assessment begins at the upper part in accordance with the objectives of the business, and whenever there is risk awareness among personnel level, it becomes possible to rely on self-assessment that is conducted to perform continuous monitoring of risks after two or three years. Making a combination of both methods is vital where the business environment remains in the continuous process of change consequently shifting the organizational risk map.
It should be known to all that detective controls are not good in prevention of errors from occurrence but are rather designed to identify the errors that enter the system. In this case, this measure will assist in identifying the numbers that are input using wrong format and hence make the necessary corrections. In any business, evaluating all the controls involves activities performed by the people who designed the system to ensure that the objectives of that business are met. They remain a strict subset of the internal enterprise control. They relate to the constant checking integrity, confidentiality data availability, and the overall management of the functions. It also incorporates controls over the controls of projects access as well as information, program improvement, and program modifications.
As asserted by Considine et al. (2010), detective controls refer to the controls of exchange mechanisms and in some cases are called “output-handling yield” controls. Controls of the system have been given excellent and unmistakable quality in enterprises recorded at the U.S. by the Oxley-Sarbanes Act. The Framework of COBITs (Controls Objectives in Information Technology) is used by the Department of ICT that characterizes an assortment of the ITGC as well as the application control goals. IT divisions in associations are frequently driven by a Head of Information Officer (CIO), who is in charge of guaranteeing successful data innovation controls are used.
Westpac Corporation should make corrective control to help in mitigating the detected errors in the system. These controls are actually designed with an aim of restoring the data in a system to the position before a disaster occurred. The controls are internal and are the second tier from detective method to understand the unforeseen risks of any organization. As asserted by Considine et al. (2010), it is important for Westpac Corporation to bear in mind that numerous regulations are surrounding the corrective controls. In addition, Westpac Corporation should make use of a public auditing firm to ensure that the internal controls remain effective.
Westpac Bank Corporation has been a victim of inefficiencies due to limited control activities about mitigating potential accounting policies. Due to human error, the company had to find an alternative that could help manage a similar effect. It is about establishing controls for entities to meet the accounting standard. In case an organization does not meet any of the given conditions, this will be considered as deficiency. For Westpac Corporation, there is the need for the internal controls and evaluation measures for internal management purposes to satisfy the interest of all stakeholders without inadequacy. If Westpac Corporation is able to apply and implement successfully all the controls discussed above, then it means that the company will soon realize its goals.
Christen, P 2012, Data matching: Concepts and techniques for record linkage, entity resolution, and duplicate detection. Springer, Berlin
Considine, B, Parkes, A, Olesen, K, Speer, D & Lee, M 2010, Accounting information systems: Understanding business processes. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
Inglis, R, Morley, C & Sammut, P 2008, Corporate reputation and organizational performance: An Australian study. Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 21 no. 9, pp.934-947.
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