October 21, 2018  

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USM Joins IDEA® Academic Partnership to Give Students Skills, Experience Using Data Analytics Software

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The University of Southern Mississippi has joined the IDEA® Academic Partnership to provide students enrolled in the Master of Professional Accountancy (MPA) program with experience using professional data analytics technology.

The donated CaseWare IDEA® software, valued at $77,000, will provide graduate students with a fully-functional Education Version of IDEA with the capability to analyze up to 5,000 records. Students have used the IDEA Workbook, case studies and data sets to learn how and where to apply data analytics through hands-on learning including importing data, performing various audit tests, reporting findings and automating repeatable processes. 

Amber Hatten, CPA, used IDEA while working as a senior manager in the audit practice at KPMG LLP in Jackson, Miss. She joined the accounting faculty at Southern Miss in the fall of 2012, and for the past three years she has taught introductory, advanced-level, and graduate courses at the University as a Professor of Practice.

Since the fall of 2014, she has also served as Director of the MPA program. In this role, she shares her extensive experience in auditing and accounting, with particular focus on not-for-profit organizations and governmental entities. Hatten encouraged the University to join the IDEA Academic Partnership to incorporate IDEA into a new summer elective course, “Auditing Analytics & IT Auditing.”

The course, which is included within the MPA program curriculum, explores how auditors use IT systems and data analytics to examine larger amounts of data to identify anomalies and potential fraud.

“We wanted to give students in the MPA program more exposure to analytics used by professionals, particularly with respect to the tools auditors use and hands-on experience with the related technology as part of this new course,” said Hatten. “This allows students an opportunity to see how auditors use analytics to look at company data from different perspectives.

“The real value is in the ability to build their analytical and critical thinking skills in the process. The Partnership has given our students first-hand experience using IDEA to run standard routines and build their professional judgment skills to more thoroughly investigate areas of interest. Those skills are highly valued by potential employers and give them a competitive advantage.”

Randy Renken, Manager of the IDEA Academic Partnership, gave an online presentation to the MPA class about using IDEA to audit Accounts Payable to help students get acquainted with using the software.

“When we demonstrate IDEA’s capabilities, students are immediately receptive because they see its potential to help them get more done in less time,” said Renken. “The University of Southern Mississippi clearly understands the importance of giving students exposure to the technology and skills employers look for when hiring top talent. We look forward to sharing IDEA with the University’s students in the School of Accountancy.”  

Hatten also received student feedback from certain MPA students working as internal auditors and accountants with large corporations and organizations who have already begun considering or recommending IDEA to their managers. MPA student Joseph (Jay) Newton believes learning data analytics is an essential part of his education.

“Having spent several years working in the field prior to pursuing my graduate studies, I have seen firsthand the vast amounts of data accountants and auditors deal with on a daily basis,” said Newton. “The growth of ERP and mobile technologies in organizations, both large and small, is only going to increase the auditor's reliance upon tools such as IDEA. By participating in the IDEA Academic Partnership, the MPA program at the University of Southern Mississippi has a great opportunity to bridge the gap between academia and the real world."

IDEA is a powerful and user-friendly tool designed to help accounting and financial professionals extend their auditing capabilities, detect fraud and meet documentation standards. It allows users to quickly import, join, analyze, sample and extract data from almost any source, including reports printed to a file, such as PDFs.

With unlimited file size capabilities and an intuitive user interface, IDEA has the ability to analyze large volumes of data in seconds. IDEA is used in more than 90 countries, by major accounting firms, government, corporations in all industry sectors and by more than 240 universities as a teaching tool.

The IDEA Academic Partnership is sponsored by Audimation Services, Inc., the U.S. distributor of CaseWare IDEA, CaseWare Monitor™ and SmartExporter.  Participation is offered at no cost to U.S. accredited college and university educators. Additional information is available at www.audimation.com/academic.