How can we audit efficiently and maintain the highest standards?
TEAMWORK. An audit is synonymous with a team sport like soccer, rugby or netball: Every team member should be effective as an individual in their assigned role in order for the team to be effective. An audit team is no exception. From the first-year trainee up to the partner, each team member has to bring the best version of themselves in that role to the team.
An efficient audit needs a number of diverse skills, and no one team member could have all those skills but, because of its diversity, a team can give our clients the full skillset needed.
An efficient audit is measured by quality that is delivered on time. This means the audit teams should be able to meet set deadlines without compromising quality.
With the PFMA period upon us, here is a checklist of tips for your audit team to ensure efficient audits of the highest standards:
- Work at client premises rather than from home. This ensures timely discussion of issues as they arise, within the team and with the client.
- Hold face-to-face meetings between the client and the team, and within the team. This is part of obtaining audit evidence – because some discussions involve certain non-verbal communication signs that are important when applying professional skepticism.
- Plan the audit carefully and rigorously to ensure a deep understanding of the client’s business operations, to translate their business risks into audit risks, and to formulate a direct response to these risks. The planning enables us to give value-adding insights to the users of our reports and financial statements.
- Plan at component/section level when allocated a section to make sure that the objectives of the tasks are well understood. This eliminates inefficiencies and reduces review time significantly.
- Profile the stakeholders and match discussions to the stakeholders’ needs and preferences. This involves distilling messages and using less technical jargon when delivering the audit to our clients.
- Give timely reviews and feedback once work has been completed.
- Conduct peer reviews and proofread your own work before submission for review. This can be simple steps, such as performing spellchecks before signing off working papers.
- Hold regular discussions with external reviewers of the file, such as EQCR, to ensure that they are kept up to date on how issues are being addressed in the audit.
- Scan the environment. Audit team members should keep up with current events and link these to how they may impact the audit. This is known as environmental scanning.
- Trainees should not wait for feedback sessions but should provide live feedback, as and when they encounter issues in the audit.
- Keep an action list of matters to being discussed in meetings and follow through these issues. Address the impact on the audit where required.
- Have short-to-the-point meetings. Always have an agenda and keep minutes of the discussions.
- Keep audit documentation in the file and not outside the file.
- Consult experts. Technical consultations should be made for complex technical matters.
- Read the literature. Before commencing with a section, always read up on the latest technical literature affecting the section, to create an expectation of the end goal before starting the section.