The extra-ordinary impact of COVID-19 has been felt hard across business, impacting the way that many companies operate.
Whether it be working patterns, styles or methods of communication, businesses have needed to adapt and improvise to overcome the challenges that the pandemic has posed, and auditors are no exception.
The threat of the pandemic has accelerated the requirement to build upon existing remote auditing systems and implement new ones, minimising contact where possible but ensuring that the quality of the audit information obtained is not impacted, whilst maintaining and building upon relationships with clients.
Video conferencing software has become an integral part of audit planning, performance and completion, enabling audit teams to conduct meetings face-to-face with clients, with screen-sharing to support effective communication and providing increased flexibility as to timings. The reduction in travel time has meant that audit planning can commence sooner after discussions have been had, with existing electronic document portals and cloud-based auditing software removing the requirement for almost all physical record exchanges.
Flexibility and pragmatism have been increasingly important in the performance of audit procedures, an example of this being remote stock-taking and observation which have become a useful and sometimes necessary tool with which to analyse and interpret client records. The use of video conferencing software to verify physical counts and procedures has benefited auditors greatly in testing material balances, even when their physical presence has not been possible, giving peace of mind to clients concerned with the protection of their staff and the integrity of their ledgers.
New systems have been well-received and feedback from clients is being actioned quickly to improve those systems further, maximising the benefits of audit in a time that has been otherwise uncertain.
Whilst there will always (perhaps begrudgingly at times) be a place for auditors on site, and the benefit of being there ‘in-person’ should not be underestimated, the last few months have reinforced the belief that change is no bad thing and that adapting, improvising and overcoming the challenges faced will contribute to a leaner, more modern and efficient audit process going forwards.
Ben Burch is Audit Manager – to discuss how we can help you improve your audit process call Ben, or a member of the Audit team, on 01242 776000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org