Analytics mindset


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Part I:


TechWear is a privately-owned business that began operations in March 2015. Its sole business is the manufacture and sale of upper-end, high-tech sportswear. It only sells to large distribution outlets. Its primary product is a line of lightweight exercise clothes that contain a new, long-range RFID chip that captures the following information about the user based on personal data (age, weight, etc.) entered by the user:

  • Heart rate
  • Perspiration rate
  • Calories burned
  • Exercise efficiency (percent of capacity)

The chip is able to continuously send this information to a host device as far away as 15 miles. The clothes are also GPS enabled and able to track routes, distances and elevations. Management prides itself on being on the cutting edge. The company expects to conduct an IPO within a year or two.

TechWear recently retained your firm as its auditors, largely because of your commitment to conduct a highly efficient, technology-enabled audit.


You are first responsible for performing a risk assessment of TechWear related to its order-to-cash function. Therefore, you know that your focus needs to be on sales and cash transactions. Your first task is to acquire the data for these transactions. You work with TechWear’s IT group to gain access to its sales and cash receipts data for its start-up period of operations, March through December 2015. You have been provided with an Excel file with this data (Analytics_mindset_case_studies_Techwear_P1.xls) so you can begin your analysis. The data file includes the following fields:

  • Type: this is the type of transaction, which is either a sale (Sales) or a cash receipt (CashReceipt).
  • Transaction Number: this is the transaction number (beginning with 1001).
  • Applied To Transaction Number: this is the sales transaction number to which a cash receipt is applied.
  • CustNum: this is a unique customer number used to identify each customer.
  • CustName: this is the customer’s name.


  • TransactionDate: this is the date of the sale or cash receipt.
  • Amount: this is the amount of the sale or cash receipt. Cash receipts will show a negative amount.
  • InvoiceDate: this is the date the sale was invoiced (billed).
  • ShipDate: this is the date the goods were shipped.


Become familiar with your data file. Make certain that your data is complete and accurate before performing any analysis. Complete the following using Excel:

  1. You’ve been told that the accounts receivable balance on the general ledger at December 31, 2015, is $684,491.19. You also know that as a start-up company, the beginning accounts receivable balance is zero. You are also told that there are no returns or write-offs in 2015. Verify this balance.
  2. You’ve also been told that TechWear only conducts business with the following 15 approved customers. Validate that there are no other customer names and that no customer names are misspelled.
    • Bigmart
    • Cool Threads
    • Corner Runner
    • Cross Country Mart
    • Family Fit
    • Fit N Fun
    • Goodway
    • Neighborhood Athletic Supply
    • Northern Lites
    • Runner’s Market
    • Southeast Regional
    • Southern Runners
    • Super Runners Mark
    • Urban Runner
    • ValueChoice
  3. The sales transaction log shows that 230 sales were transacted this year, beginning with transaction 1001. Verify that the data for all of these invoices has been captured and that there are no additional invoices or duplicates included in the file.


Analytics mindset


Part II:


Now that you have your data, you need to perform appropriate analytics techniques to inform your risk assessment for the order-to-cash cycle for TechWear.

  1. Develop an accounts receivable (AR) trial balance (by customer and by invoice) as of December 31, 2015.
    • Recall that beginning AR + sales – sales returns – cash receipts – bad debt write-offs = ending AR. As mentioned in Part I, the beginning accounts receivable balance is zero and there are no returns or write-offs in 2015.

Perform the following analyses relating to collectability risk (which is the risk the company won’t collect money for its sales) on the December 31, 2015, accounts receivable balance. For each procedure, provide a brief statement regarding your findings.

  1. Display the year-to-date trend in sales and cash receipts by month for 2015 (with dollars on the x-axis and months on the y-axis). Use a visualization to best highlight any concerns about potential collection issues.
  2. Compute the year-to-date days-sales-outstanding (DSO) ratio for each month. Show the results numerically and with a visualization. For the latter, use a column chart, also called a vertical bar chart (with DSO as the x-axis and months as the y-axis), to best highlight any concerns about potential collection issues.
    • DSO = ending AR balance for the period / total sales for the period (year-to-date)) * number of days in the period (year-to-date)
  3. Develop an aging analysis by customer and invoice using 30-day increments (0–30 days, 31–60 days, 61–90 days and > 90 days). Display this at the customer level with the ability to drill down to the transaction (invoice) level. Provide a visualization of the percentage of accounts receivable in each aging category at the company level using a column chart (with percentage as the x-axis and aging category as the y-axis).







Analytics mindset


Part III:


One year has passed and it is now time to begin the 2016 audit. TechWear’s business has continued to expand. Our initial analysis of 2016 data indicates a much greater risk in accounts receivable (compared with 2015). When the audit team discussed this with company management, we were reminded that last year’s accounts receivable proved to be fully collectible and we were assured that this year accounts receivable would also prove to be fully collectible as well. Management indicated that, similar to 2015, there have been no product returns or accounts written off in 2016.

The senior has asked you to assist with planning the 2016 audit, beginning with the order-to-cash cycle, by focusing on accounts receivable and sales. In particular, she has provided you with the following key audit assertions that need to be addressed:

Accounts receivable – account balance Sales – class of transactions
Existence Occurrence
Completeness Completeness
Valuation and allocation Accuracy
Classification and understandability Cutoff

She has asked that, for each of these assertions, you describe the following at a high level:

  • Audit objectives
  • Things that could go wrong in TechWear’s sales and accounts receivable system
  • Mitigating controls designed to prevent or detect such occurrences
  • Audit tests that use data analysis (including graphical views) to obtain evidence
  • Data requirements needed to run the tests

Your senior has already interviewed a number of key personnel (Director of Marketing and Sales, Shipping Supervisor, Business Office Director (responsible for billing and collections), Accounting Supervisor and the IT Director) and taken notes during these interviews, as follows:

General notes

TechWear has some very aggressive growth goals (targeting $38 million in global sales for calendar year 2016).

The excitement on social media has been very encouraging, resulting in very positive trends in the number and size of orders from existing customers, as well as some prominent new customers.

Sales personnel are under a significant amount of pressure to meet their monthly targets.

The production department is barely able to keep up with the orders. Some have expressed concern that product quality may be impacted in the future unless changes are made to improve the manufacturing infrastructure.

Management is planning a major renovation in early 2017 that will greatly expand its production capacity.

One individual involved with R&D expressed concern that the product may not function as designed in some less technologically developed environments with sporadic connectivity and slower transmission speeds.

Like many start-up companies, TechWear has operated with a very limited staff, resulting in an inadequate segregation of duties. At least two key employees are related, including the Director of IT and a top sales representative.

Director of Marketing and Sales

The Director oversees a small team of salespeople that market TechWear’s products to distribution outlets.

An order cannot be entered into the system unless the customer has been set up in the customer master file, which reflects data such as the customer’s name, identification number (assigned by TechWear), billing information and credit limits. Historically, the process to set up a new customer involved running an extensive background and credit check, which could take up to 30 days. However, due to complaints from sales personnel, management decided to create a “provisional status” that would enable immediate order fulfillment while the credit check is in process.

TechWear uses an order-entry system that enables sales personnel to generate an order. Once an order is entered, the system automatically generates a shipping order that appears on the shipping department’s order fulfillment log.

Shipping Supervisor

TechWear’s goal is to fulfill an order within 24 hours of its receipt. Orders entered near the end of the day (after the FedEx pickup time) are marked as “pending” and cleared out the following business day.

At the time of shipment, TechWear’s shipping clerk enters the shipping number into the system and the FedEx identification number (all shipments for the same day have the same FedEx identification number), which then releases the order, resulting in the sales transaction being posted (with a transaction number that matches the shipping number) and an invoice being generated. The invoice is sent either electronically or via mail to the customer. At the same time, the cost of inventory relieved for items sold is automatically generated and recorded based on the shipping number. Typically, the cost of sales ranges between 35% and 45%.

The ERP system automatically logs the date of shipment.

A listing of unfilled (pending) orders can be generated from the system based on orders entered that do not list a shipping number, FedEx identification number and shipping weight. One is rarely produced because the company historically has not had a problem with orders being unfulfilled beyond 24 hours.

The system allows an order entered late one day (noted as pending) to be overridden and released by the Director of IT as if the order had been fulfilled. The ERP system leaves no trail when this occurs, and simply removes the pending flag.

TechWear strongly believes in its products and has an unlimited 90-day return policy that allows a customer to return any product for any reason within 90 days of purchase. Additionally, it warrants its products against manufacturing defects for two years.

If a product is returned (which has not happened yet) the Shipping Department issues a credit memo to the customer, which results in a reversal of the sale.

Business Office Director (responsible for billing and collections)

Cash is collected either via checks received through the mail or a bank lockbox (which is the preferred method, given the size of its customers), whereby payments are posted by the bank directly into TechWear’s depository account.

Customer billing disputes, which management says have been rare, are resolved by the Business Office. Thus far, there have been no bad debt write-offs, which management credits to the quality of its products and its extensive background checks. On a quarterly basis, the Business Office reviews an “Aged AR” listing of old accounts warranting further attention. If necessary, an allowance for “bad debts” would be recorded in the general ledger. Actual bad debts would be charged against the allowance.

Accounting Supervisor

The Accounting Office is responsible for making the bank deposit. It also reconciles the depository bank account at month-end, ensuring that all cash receipts have been accounted for.

The main responsibility of the Accounting Office is to monitor daily sales and produce action reports for management. These are system-generated reports that are reviewed by an accounting analyst who flags adverse sales trends. The focus is on meeting company targets.

Director of IT

The IT Department (consisting of two individuals) is responsible for ensuring that TechWear’s website is running efficiently and is protected from internal and external threats. The Director has “super user” rights and can access any system. His assistant has full read-only rights and can only make changes to test files. The assistant has been charged with monitoring sales activity and ensuring continuity and security.



Complete the audit data analysis planning template on the following page. Note the following:

  • This template has been partially completed for you to provide examples about how to complete the template.
  • The scope of this case study is limited to internal data (i.e., only internal data is provided and no external data). External data provides a higher form of evidence. Examples of external data include data from a bank, a vendor (like FedEx) or others. Additionally, some internal data supplied externally (such as sales tax filings) often is better than data only used internally.
  • Note that testing of journal entries involving the general ledger, IT general and application controls, and controls over the financial statement close process are beyond the scope of this case study.


Assertion Auditing objectives What could go wrong? Mitigating controls Data analysis auditing procedures Data requirements
Accounts receivable – account balance
Existence Amounts reported in the financial statements represent valid receivables. An order is placed and a receivable is recorded without any product being shipped. Debits to accounts receivable are only generated from the order entry system. ►    Compare debits to accounts receivable against recorded sales.

►    Review and test subsequent receipts.

►    Evaluate proper segregation of duties by examining postings by source and preparer (e.g., sales only entered by authorized salesclerk).

►    Sales amounts

►    Cash receipt amounts

►    Customer names

►    Transaction dates

►    Transaction numbers

►    General ledger postings by preparer and source (e.g., order entry)

    A shipping number and FedEx identification number are entered into the system as evidence of order fulfillment and discrepancies are investigated. ►    Verify that every sales transaction has a shipping number and FedEx identification number.

►    Analyze gross margin percentage trends by month and by customer.

►    Customer names

►    Transaction numbers

►    Shipping numbers

►    FedEx ID numbers

►    Sales amounts

►    Cost of goods sold amounts

►    Transaction dates



Valuation and allocation          
Classification and understandability          
Sales – class of transactions
Occurrence Amounts reported in the financial statements represent valid sales. An order is placed and a sale is recorded without any product being shipped. A shipping number and FedEx identification number are entered into the system as evidence of order fulfillment and discrepancies are investigated. Verify that every sales transaction has a shipping number and FedEx identification number. ►    Customer names

►    Transaction numbers

►    Shipping numbers

►    FedEx ID numbers

►    Sales amounts






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