For the modern auditor, there’s never been a more challenging time to monitor and adhere to evolving regulatory changes and standards effectively. Like most other industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the auditing profession into a situation where remote techniques are essential to continue performing engagements.
On top of that, emerging technologies such as automation, data analytics and cloud-based computing CPA firms are increasingly being forced to focus on innovation to respond to changes in auditing. At present, it’s crucial for online audit managers leading remote audit teams to properly consider the most effective way to deliver a high-quality audit for their clients.
Use this guide to discover how to manage an audit team remotely to lead your accounting clients towards success in an increasingly digital world.
At its core, a remote audit uses technology to evaluate the compliance and accuracy of financial records within an organisation. Remote auditing replaces face-to-face interaction regardless of whether the audit is internal or between an organisation and an external audit team.
While the COVID-19 pandemic may have caused widespread disruption, the benefits of remote audits are that they free up on-site resources, enhance workflow with support, and use technology to maximise the efficiency of the overall process.
Typically, a remote audit is auditor-led and an evolving process that requires adjustments along the way. Interviews are conducted over video conferencing platforms, and documents, data and other files are shared and reviewed on document-sharing apps.
When managing a remote auditing team, it’s important to be aware that virtual audits come with their own unique set of challenges.
As a leader, it can be hard to guide and coach your team members when you can only interact through technology. As well as that, overseeing work and ensuring the quality of the audit requires a more proactive, hands-on approach.
When managing your audit team remotely, it’s essential to have a central location to store all important documents (such as methodology) to stay on track as the audit progresses.
Essential Digital Audit Tools For Remote Teams
While digital transformation isn’t a recent phenomenon, for today’s auditing teams technology has been brought into sharp focus as organisations across industries adapt to remote practices.
The good news is that remote auditing teams can harness technology to their advantage.
- Video Conferencing Technology. Electronic communication between your auditing team and the client’s organisation is a crucial component of a successful remote audit. In the post-COVID world, video conferencing tools have proven to be a more personal and engaging way to conduct business than just audio conferencing. There’s a much better, more active connection between people when everyone can see each other.
- Secure Web Portals & Document Access. The potential of cyberattacks from hackers requires remote auditing teams to be sensitive to online threats. To avoid any data leaks or compromised information, secure web portals, and restricted access to important files and documents is essential. Web portals facilitate easy, fast, and secure confirmations to anyone at any location, removing the need to rely on inefficient methods prone to error or fraud.
- Data Analytics. The main driver for audit teams using data analytics is to improve the quality of the audit by providing an overall, comprehensive picture. Data analytics help remote audit teams to more effectively audit large amounts of data within a client’s IT systems and infrastructure. Access to analytics allows auditors to manipulate and analyse data to extract unique insights.
- Cloud-Based Technology. Since cloud computing applications can be shared and used on-demand at remote distances, they enable companies to reduce the costs of data storage and processing. As well as that, cloud technology cuts expenditure costs surrounding an audit. Using security-enhanced cloud computing, document sharing, and video conferencing applications serves to benefit both the client and the remote audit team with an agile and more responsive auditing process.
Continue To Follow Compliance Regulations & Standard Procedures
Despite the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, it remains a requirement for auditing professionals to meet the appropriate standards and fulfil their duties in accordance with policies and procedures.
Even when working remotely, audit teams must bear in mind:
- Necessary compliance when handling documentation requirements.
- Upholding accuracy, completeness and transparency at every stage when conducting a comprehensive audit.
- Being more attentive to client needs by sensitively handling interactions at a physical distance.
Be Prepared For Flexible Schedules And Long-Term Change To The Accounting Audit Process
A quality audit should begin with a clear roadmap that outlines the expectations and end goals. However, it’s also important to consider that every client is different, meaning that most plans will need to be amended as the audit process develops.
Flexible auditing allows remote teams to quickly change direction and find new ways of working best as new issues or complications arise. Remote teams must communicate to effectively rethink an approach or reschedule timing to accommodate any necessary changes.
As a leader of a remote audit team, and as a participant in a long-distance professional environment, you must be aware that remote working is here to stay. For modern auditing teams, this requires a less traditional mindset when it comes to changing schedules or unconventional working practices.
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