Historically, auditors would spend weeks in the field hiding out at the headquarters of the company undergoing an audit. However, triggered by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many businesses to go remote essentially overnight, a a growing number of businesses are choosing to stay remoteor at least hybrid.
Thanks to advances in technology — such as cloud-based solutions, teleconferencing, data exchange platforms and camera drones, remote audits They are possible as long as you have the right tools and policies.
How is a remote audit policy developed?
When developing a remote control audit policy, it is important to plan, set expectations and be intentional. This means being intentional about what remote work will look like, what processes will be put in place, and the technology that will be leveraged.
Remote work is not simply an electronic version of traditional manual processes. The policy should provide a clear roadmap of how audit team will operate to achieve success.
“We are not paving the way for the cows with remote work. You really want to think of it like building a new highway, which requires thought. It requires planning and it requires a feedback loop to make sure we have processes that work for everyone, said Stephanie Lanke, a senior accounting and auditing consultant at Thomson Reuters.
When developing a remote audit policyfactors to consider include:
- What technology will be used? Is there bring your own devices (BYOD) and what does that entail?
- What are the procedures to ensure that the proper permits are obtained?
- What processes, sites and activities can be audited remotely?
- What are the security and privacy protocols for any software that may be used?
- What is the availability of both staff and customers? Set those guidelines.
What should be included in a remote audit policy?
a remote control audit policy It should describe what technology will be used and how it will be used in areas such as document reviews, site reconnaissance, and remote interviewing.
Ensuring that documents can be accessed securely and efficiently is critical. A policy should describe what client documents need to be sent in advance, how the documents will be sent, and in what format.
This helps ensure that data remains secure and audit teams have timely access to the documents they need. The sooner auditors can start reviewing documents, the better.
What concerns to access to documentsconsider the following:
- How will the documents be accessed? Outline the protocols for a secure file sharing site.
- What should be included in the advance document request list?
- Are there file folders for each of the processes included in the audit scope so that documents can be easily located and reviewed?
- How should the documents be named and/or numbered so that they can be easily located?
- What is the preferred digital format?
- There is a “living” document request/delivery list on file sharing site?
This is perhaps one of the the most challenging aspects of a remote audit. In a remote audit, the auditors may not be there to physically check the customer’s inventory. therefore the audit policy it should address the technology that will be used and how it will be used for site recognition.
For example, what technology will the team leverage for live tours (i.e., two-way communication technology like live streaming)? How and when will the company use drones or company cell phones for video and digital photos in remote inventory observations?
Additional factors to consider:
- What are the procedures for testing the technology and ensuring proper Wi-Fi connections?
- Is there a facilitator on site to help resolve any technology related issues?
- What are the methodologies for remote video viewing?
- Use of digital devices may require special permissions. What are the procedures for obtaining those permits?
Thanks to technology, remote interviews can be conducted in a similar way to in-person interviews.
For example, video conferencing technology, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, allows auditors to see the client and pick up non-verbal cues. Screen sharing can be used to help with observations, walkthroughs, and testing of access controls.
So the remote audit policy it should cover the procedures and technology to be used in managing and conducting remote interviews.
How do you manage a remote audit team?
When managing a remote audit teamIt is important ensure managerial support, uphold the company culture and promote well-being. While working remotely can have its benefits, it can present some challenges, such as an increased sense of isolation and falling victim to “always connected”.
to help better manage a remote audit team and mitigate employee burnout, consider the following:
Hold regularly scheduled standup meetings. This can be a great way for remote staff to stay engaged and share the status of their work. These gatherings also present an opportunity to celebrate small achievements and promote accountability and preparedness. “
It’s a quick time of day, first thing in the morning, to align goals, avoid distractions, and make sure everyone is prioritizing correctly,” Lanke said.
Other opportunities to manage a remote audit team:
- Establish the best method to facilitate communication between team members. This could include email, instant messaging, video calls, etc.
- Determine which channel/tool should be used for which type of communication.
- encourage a healthy balance between work and life. This includes taking breaks, exercising, setting realistic deadlines, creating a work schedule, and prioritizing work.
Remote audits are here to stay. Take action now to have the right tools and remote work policies in place for success.
Learn more about how to manage a successful remote audit with our white paper, Remote Audit Best Practices. Explore cloud-based engagement software, remote audit techniques for better engagement, and best practices for managing remote audits and remote audit teams.
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