Tips on Ensuring an Efficient Virtual Audit
By Tina Smith, CPA
The pandemic has greatly reduced our face to face interactions in the workplace. Virtual meetings have become expected and sometimes preferred over meeting in person, not only to reduce exposure, but also for convenience and flexibility. As a result, virtual audits are also becoming more the norm. The following are tips on making the most out of your virtual audit.
Communication: Effective communication is key in strengthening relationships and ensuring expectations are met. Communication with the audit team should be clear and consistent throughout the engagement. Audit information requests should be received well in advance in order to be properly prepared. Rescheduling creates inefficiencies which can result in increased fees. Also, additional time may be required in providing source documents digitally. Expectations regarding timelines should be discussed up front in order to allow time to review draft reports and receive final deliverables to meet deadlines.
Data Maintenance and Security: A significant impact in having a virtual audit is in how audit information is provided to the auditor. As opposed to providing original source documents such as invoices, bank statements, payroll information, etc. to the auditor for review on-site, this information must be scanned and sent digitally for virtual audits. Efficiencies can be gained by scanning and storing supporting documentation digitally throughout the year. Written policies and procedures should be in place for managing records digitally. Having digital backups also reduces the risk of losing paper files and can simplify the process of quickly locating important information. Assurance should be given that data will be transmitted securely, such as through ShareFile.
Virtual Meetings: While the virtual audit has reduced personal interaction, video conferencing can be utilized to closely parallel in-person meetings in order to answer questions, resolve issues, and review draft reports.
The virtual audit can be a positive transition if done correctly, eliminating travel time and related costs and providing greater flexibility in the timing and location of the audit. A blended approach to performing audits would perhaps be ideal, allowing for both remote and in-person roles. This approach would combine the convenience and flexibility of the virtual audit with personal interaction which can enhance relationship building, brainstorming and problem solving.
Tina H. Smith Senior Manager, CPA
Tina is a senior manager in BRC’s assurance area with over 20 years of experience in public accounting, including 9 years with a national frim, EY. Her industry experience with EY included insurance, banking, not-for-profits, manufacturing, and retail, including public companies. Her industry experience with BRC includes primarily not-for-profit organizations, associations and occupational licensing […]