Auditing remotely has become the new normal for nearly every auditor across the country. While not ideal, professions are learning to adapt to the new normal we all are facing, and the auditing industry is no different. While it is easy to feel overwhelmed by having to change the processes and procedures you have become accustomed to, remote auditing should be looked at as a great opportunity to use technology as a catalyst rather than a hindrance. Below are some tips to auditing remotely that, upon review, will hopefully result in an effective and efficient remote audit for your company.
Whether in person or remote, planning ahead on a job is key to being successful. Making sure you and your team are aware of their pre-fieldwork responsibilities will allow everyone adequate time to prepare. Providing support to auditors to help answer questions, supplying processes and procedures to get an understanding of your internal controls, and being flexible and open to interviews and observations are all tasks that can be accomplished relatively easily if you are willing to accept that things have to be done differently to accomplish a remote audit. Auditor time previously spent commuting can now be utilized for completing audit work quicker than previously allowed. And with data essentially being able to be accessed from anywhere, such as from a cloud-based portal, having scheduled times set to fulfill audit requests and/or answer any auditor questions will help you manage your audit duties, in addition to your own job obligations. Having all involved aware of what they are tasked to complete, in addition to having these set appointments with auditors, should largely result in both sides prioritizing one another due to being on the same page.
What must not be lost in remote audits are that auditors have objectives and assertions they are testing and trying to accomplish. The type of audit evidence that needs to be gathered to achieve a successful remote audit needs to be determined weeks in advance by the auditors who must notify you to decide whether a remote audit is suitable in the circumstances and aligned to the scope of the audit. Another area to consider is technology. If network connections are not very reliable, interviews and meetings can be interrupted, and it may take some time to reconnect and solve all the network problems. Access to relevant databases and systems should also be considered to ensure tangible and objective evidence is available to provide to the auditors.
Like the world around us, more and more of our day to day lives are becoming technology driven. While not always ideal, a remote audit is something that can be beneficial in numerous ways for both you and your auditors and should be welcomed as such. While we don’t believe that the current work environment during this pandemic will result in all audits being done completely remote in the future, this is providing opportunities to rethink our audit approaches and potentially reduce the amount of auditor time in the field for future audits.