Is your choice of technology solutions holding your practice back from all it can be? Auditors & Accountants have traditionally been a little slower on the technology uptake in comparison to other industry sectors. Now, more than ever, the right technology for auditors is becoming increasing mainstream. Technology definitely has its pro’s, but of course, there are some challenges too. What is right for YOUR practice? Here are 3 areas technology can help you to up your audit tech game and improve your business.
1. Master data challenges
- Volume – The sheer volume of data there is in the world now is staggering. Blockchain technology may mean that we get to a point where there is no need to sample and test anything manually anymore. In the meantime, if an auditor uses technology to analyse all transactions in a data set, you need to understand that you are more likely to find errors and/or outright fraud. Your audit workflow and client agreements need to be able to account for this potential curve ball.
- Completeness & reliability of data sets provided – Auditors are requesting more information than ever before which has created a range of issues. When your client downloads data, how do you know the data is complete and not adjusted at all? Then how do you get the data? Do they email? Is this safe? Using cloud-based systems are definitely helping here, as direct integrations take the human intervention requirement out, thus significantly reducing risk and increasing reliability. Review your options in your software choices.
- Data Sovereignty & Safety– If you or your clients are using a cloud-based solution, you must have clarity over who owns the data recorded in them or uploaded and stored. Understanding who can access it is also key, and understanding where your data is stored after it is entered and how available and accessible it is, should be of paramount importance to understand. Do you know where the cloud host’s servers are located? Is the data encrypted at all time? These are all questions that a reputable cloud-based solution should provide easily.
2. Insist on security for all your interactions and collaboration requirements
Certifications like ISO27001 and SOC 2 certification are becoming important for Cloud technology providers to have, to provide confidence to customers of the security and privacy of their data. Many cloud solutions now include a client portal where auditors can interact with their clients securely. For example, auditors with Caseware's Agile Audit can provide their clients with restricted access to the platform, in order to securely collaborate, send, request and receive information and documentation relevant to the audit. The app is also on Caseware's Cloud which has both the ISO 27001 and SOC 2 Type 1 and 2 certifications, providing auditors and their clients with peace of mind that their data and interactions are private and protected.
3. Make the most of cloud and other technical opportunities
Cloud-based technology is not just a storage solution. It allows teams to stay in touch whilst working remotely, but also still work in a very secure environment. It also reduces the need for maintaining IT infrastructure and specialists within a business.
- A secure ‘portal solution’ is a far better alternative to email. This means all audit engagement files and supportive documentation are all in the one location, making it easier to manage jobs and related communication. The auditor doesn’t need to leave the engagement file to send and receive information from clients or colleagues in a less secure environment like email.
- There are very minimal IT requirements – all you need is a web-enabled device and you are ‘good to go’. There is also no local installation or software update requirements, no server or firewall related issues. The total IT environment external to your laptop and an internet connection is all managed for you. Ensure your cloud solution has a robust and reputable provider (like Amazon Web Services) with solid service agreements to minimise disruption and access.
- Cloud-hosted software solutions also facilitate things like direct integration between various applications. In Caseware Cloud you can exchange data across our totally cloud-based Agile Audit and our traditional Audit desktop platform that has Cloud integration.
All of this collaboration, reduced IT requirements and better integration options combine to provide significant efficiencies that will help you provide value and a quality audit service to your clients.
The role of auditors
Technology will change the role of auditors, but that change will be for the better. Audit accessibility, efficiency and quality will be enhanced through more thorough work processes backed by technology that promotes consistency and accuracy, and auditors will be able to provide even more valuable guidance and feedback to clients than they are already offering.
And don’t worry – technology will never take the place of the professional skills, judgement and the expertise and professional scepticism of auditors. We recommend you embrace the changes and evolution that technology is offering the audit profession, and enjoy the ride!