Transforming the audit: Looking ahead with technology

If the start of 2022 is a good indicator, this year will be another transformation, from how we work and need to cover all aspects of innovation, to where we work and how we manage hybrid work environments, and what we are working on in order to effectively provide optimal value with limited resources.

In our laptop bags, whether they’re slung over our shoulders or tucked under a desk in our home offices, we carry a lot of hard-earned lessons over the past two years. The ability to apply them to the benefit of our clients and audit teams is an unmistakable silver that emphasizes the profession’s decision-oriented approach to new obstacles.

We learned that we need to find new, creative ways to do our job and collaborate with others in very different work environments. As the work day has become smoother, it is clear that sometimes the most effective way to work with others is to empathize with everyone’s personal path – regardless of the problems and successes in work and personal lives of people who shape how they appear in that particular day.

Many times in audits there are clients, consultants and auditors. But over the last two years these titles have broken down and we have been able to connect at a level that exceeds the working relationship. The restrictions of the pandemic and the acceptance of video calls have forced us all to open our homes to each other in unusual ways, which has led to stronger relationships and connections.

These last two years have also shown the market that location is not everything when it comes to choosing a service provider. Many conversations now begin with “who is the right supplier?” and further with “where are they located?” as we have proven, we can be effective and equally supportive in the virtual world.

Remote audits have actually allowed teams to improve their performance, which is very important because we have seen an increase in overall demand and a focus on timely and effective audits.

Because the virtual work environment has minimized many geographic constraints, firms have benefited from a wider pool of resources when recruiting. This has led teams to specialize more in the client’s industry or sector, creating more value for both the audit and the client. It also gave clients and collaborators more flexibility in their schedules so that work could progress when someone could not be in the office.

Remote work has also forced audit teams and clients to be more intentional in personal communication. This led to an increase in efficiency, which was probably lost during the days when you were on site every day during the audit.

Does all this mean that remote audits can take a place on the list next to a circle and sliced ​​bread? Not yet. Although firms and customers have typically managed to adapt to the challenges posed by the pandemic, the market still shows a significant desire and demand for personal contact and personal collaboration.

To this end, some audits will return to place and others will not. There will be no universal approach. In general, as audit teams have come out on top in the last two years, clients understand – and appreciate – that their service models have more options. In response, firms are adjusting their approach and expectations.

While we don’t expect things to return to what they were before the pandemic, three types of interactions come into focus. Some customers are asking the team to be on site most of the time as it was before the pandemic. Others are looking for a hybrid approach in which teams have points of contact in place during an audit but also conduct work virtually. Other clients now prefer a fully virtual audit.

In each classification, the audit team and clients receive an inherent permission to be creative when performing and completing the audit. This continues to drive the digital transformation in the auditing profession.

Technology has become an integral part of the audit process as firms make more use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The many benefits of this approach for both the client and the audit team will only spur momentum for greater acceptance.

Firms can deploy their resources more strategically by increasing utilization during a busy season, which, as we all know, will be especially important in 2022. Technology allows audit teams to increase testing to gain additional support and comfort in their procedures.

By using technology to support transaction-level testing, the underlying audit work is performed more efficiently and in a timely manner, speeding up the audit process. Initially taking a step away from transaction-level work, new technology tools allow auditors to assess trends, financial performance and the market more holistically through the prism of the industry.

Data analytics can provide clients with valuable information that can be used to create highly effective analytics to shorten certain audit procedures in essence, gaining a better understanding of key risk areas, increasing both audit efficiency and effectiveness.

Overall the good news is that we can now make much better use of new tools and techniques to increase efficiency, collaboration and flexibility for our customers and our teams. We still need to do, but increased attention and awareness of the quality of our interactions, both personal and virtual, combined with our focus on innovation, have helped us become even better business consultants for our clients.

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