In late 2015, respected tax and accounting publication Accounting Today released their annual State of the Audit webinar that covered a wide range of topics and addressed many of the concerns that many accountants and firms have heading into the new year. The webinar is extremely effective in discussing the most pressing issues facing the industry right now as well as presenting an in-depth list of recommendations for steps every individual can take today in order to stay one step ahead of the competition when it comes to understanding the current status of auditing needs.
The webinar is moderated by Accounting Today Editor-in-Chief Dan Hood and features speaker Stephanie D. Lanke, CPA, a customer experience leader at Wolters Kluwer, a global company that provides services and software to professionals in the fields of law, tax, finance and healthcare. Before her time as a customer experience leader she worked for several years as a senior auditor, so she brings extensive experience to he field of auditing and tax preparation.
In this article we’ll summarize some of the key points outline within the webinar and discuss some steps you can take right now to improve the quality of your audits.
Audit Quality Initiatives
The webinar discussed at length the long-term positive impacts of implementing audit quality initiatives in order to improve the effectiveness of audits. One of the most discussed concepts within this area of dialogue was the idea of practice monitoring, finding a way to constantly be aware of how practices are being implemented when it comes to auditing.
One effective way to increase your ability to monitor your practices is by utilizing a document management system. Document management allows you to scan, store, organize, edit and share documents instantaneously and securely within a unified cloud-based database. Essentially, all of the documentation outlining your practices as well as the information about how those practices are faring in real-world scenarios will be readily available to every member of your organization. This will increase accountability and visibility in both the short- and long-term of your organization.
Peer Review Deficiencies
Another area of interest addressed in the webinar was the deficiencies frequently found in peer reviews and how they can be improved. Among the issues discussed were the following-
Documentation of Planning and Risk Assessment— Lanke found that retaining effective documentation outlining plans and the assessment of risks within an organization was generally a weak spot for auditors.
Evaluation and Documentation of Internal Controls— Along the same lines, records of internal practices and controls and documentation outlining how those practices are evaluated were often alarmingly absent
Industry-Specific Issues— Lanke also found that peer reviews also frequently failed to address concerns that were unique to individual industries, instead focusing heavily on general issues
Things to Do Now
Lanke went on to outline a list of actions auditors could take right now in order to better prepare for the current status of auditing needs across the world. We’ve selected a key points to outline below.
Start Early to Prepare for Upcoming Changes— She stressed the critical advice that falling behind in adapting to modern changes to auditing techniques can mean a death sentence for auditing firms trying to compete in a crowded marketplace. Adopting modern technological advances like content analysis and document management are critical to staying ahead of the curve.
Continuous internal monitoring leads to success— Another concern that can be addressed by effective document management is the necessity of diligent internal monitoring to ensure that all practices are being followed and all data is being handled efficiently and effectively.
Engaging Partners Effectively— Communication was stressed as a critical tool in successful work, particularly in the early pre-engagement stages. Implementing a tool that allows the sharing of data instantly with interested parties is critical to improving in this area.
Focus on high-risk areas— This might seem like a no brainer, but it’s an all-too-common occurrence for organizations to get so caught up in the day-to-day minor tasks that they lose sight of their primary goals and the most high-risk aspects of their work. Take care of the most critical tasks first, and then move on to the rest.
Document, Document, Document!— Finally, Lanke saved her highest emphasis to highlight the importance of diligently keeping organized, in-depth and readily available documentation on everything that goes on within your organization and throughout each and every audit. According to Lanke, if it’s not documented it didn’t happen.
If documenting every step of your processes is critical to success, than it stands to reason that implementing a powerful document management system would be a shrewd move for modern, up-to-date auditors who want to outsmart the competition and increase their clientele. To find out more about how document management can prepare you for the current state of auditing, fill out the short form on this page to receive a free 15-minute demo of eFileCabinet’s DMS software.