In today’s modernized world, working remotely has become increasingly popular. The option has given employees more flexibility and introduced new ways of completing work, even when it comes to auditing. The use of modern accounting software has simplified some of the standard accounting processes and has started the more widely accepted practice of virtual audits.
These were the topics of a presentation titled “Preparing for a Paperless and Remote Audit,” during the Sage Transform 2022 annual conference for customers of Sage Intacct’s accounting and financial management software.
During that session, speakers David Abel, Principal Solution Consultant at Sage, and Allison Webb, Director at Baker Tilly Digital, explained that “the objectives of a financial statement audit are unchanged by being remote.”
What has changed in remote audits: clear and thorough communication between auditors and the finance professionals assigned to help them is even more critical when the participants are not working in the same place. Allison suggested that organizations prep for the remote audit process by scheduling from day one comprehensive conversation with their auditors about shared goals and preferred processes. Together they should set up timelines and delineate responsibilities. As a first step, the teams should identify problems of the past and figure out how to avoid them moving forward.
Allison goes on to say that finance teams should create auditor dashboards – a straightforward task with Sage Intacct’s software – to help the auditors easily find necessary documents and records. Then, the experts recommended granting the auditors employee-level access 24/7 during the audit period. That way the auditors can work independently around schedules that are convenient to them, even on holidays or late nights. Allison also suggested giving the auditors a virtual tour of Sage Intacct so they can be familiar with how to navigate the software and find what they need throughout the process. Since Sage Intacct can collect and store the information needed for the audit, it is a good virtual central location that both the auditors and finance team can access.
As a part of the ongoing audit prep process, Allison and David also urged finance professionals to check auditor logs regularly within Sage Intacct to get a sense of who is logging in and monitor what information the auditors are looking for.
To ensure a smooth audit process, use the regular conversations between the finance teams and auditors to discuss: project status, resolve technology challenges, synch schedules and identify possible problem areas. There is a “checklist” function within Sage Intacct to track target dates and to-dos, similar to the auditors’ “prepared by client (PBC) list. There is also a “collaborate” function where the auditors and the internal team can communicate within Sage Intacct and make clear who is responsible for each task and document questions and responses throughout the audit process.
Allison suggested financial teams create short videos explaining how to use the software as quick training resources. The videos will walk through how to find accounts payable or trial balances and even can demonstrate how payroll and accounts receivables processes work for internal controls process reviews. Allison further suggested the videos can be re-used after the audit as training tools for new employees during this time of high turnover. The audit dashboards created within Sage Intacct are flexible to be rolled over each year to create consistency and efficiency for the audit process, for the organization and for the auditors.
Remote audits, which gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, are likely here to stay, as suggested by David and Allison. Today’s technology allows easy sharing of documents and anecdotal evidence suggests that finance experts and auditors alike enjoy the freedom of working from wherever they are, whenever they wish. Remote audits also promise to help auditors access information more efficiently and finish their tasks faster, saving money for the clients who are footing the bills.
Whether it’s working on a remote audit or getting started implementing accounting software, Baker Tilly Digital is here to help. To learn more, contact us.