Blog > Technology & Innovation > Remote Auditing: Fact or Fiction?
Wilson Partners Audit
16 September 2021

Remote Auditing: Fact or Fiction?

The last 18 months has resulted in a lot of good, and not so good, innovations in remote technology, Joe Wicks workout anyone?  One of the unseen benefits, which really does prove that necessity is indeed the mother of all invention, is the advent of Remote Auditing. At Wilson Partners this innovation has enable us to continue with business as usual, from an Audit perspective, despite not being able to attend our client’s sites in person, due to Covid restrictions.

So, a full statutory audit without a team of auditors clogging up your meeting rooms for weeks on end, to good to be true, right? Well, it takes a bit of discipline on both sides, with everyone committing to do what they say they are going to do, when they say they are going to do it, but it is perfectly feasible. As we have demonstrated here at Wilson Partners where, over the last 18 months, we have successfully delivered all of our audit assignments with very little time on client sites.

A Remote Audit is pretty much the same as a traditional audit, it is just that the majority of the field work is done remotely. It simply uses electronic means to obtain and share audit material. Documents can be sent securely via DropBox, Weshare, Google Drive, screen sharing or another equally secure method, and the audit team can start work immediately. For some clients where visual auditing is still required, this can also be done virtually via live link ups. One benefit that has come from the Covid pandemic is that technology has seen a step change in the power and reliability of remote technology where in the past the “pinwheel of doom” would have been a significant blocker, especially if large volumes of data were being regularly exchanged. The rapid development of platforms such as Microsoft Team and Zoom has also enabled much more effective on-line meetings and collaboration on a scale that was previously unthinkable.

Communication of course becomes that much more critical as not having a team on site can be viewed as “out of sight out of mind”. As long as expectations are set early in the process, from both sides, and deliverables and timelines are mutually agreed and adhered to, then there are no barriers to a successful outcome.

However good the process, or the intentions, circumstances outside of our control can often cause delays for an audit team on a client’s site. Be it sickness of key staff providing information to the team or a business issue that understandably takes priority. This can often lead to downtime for an audit team, which then prolongs the audit and increases cost. Ultimately with an audit you are buying time.  Working remotely allows greater flexibility when there are unforeseen delays as the audit team can be working on other assignments, in any downtime, which can greatly reduce the incidence of cost overruns.

Geography is also no longer a barrier, especially where a business may have geographically disparate locations, be they in the UK or overseas. Historically this could greatly increase the cost and complexity of an audit with travelling, accommodation, flights and other logistical challenges. This could now be a thing of the past with Remote Audit being conducted anywhere in the world from a central hub.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you will never see your auditors in person ever again, we wouldn’t be that cruel! Opening and closing meetings can still be conducted in person and complex issues can be discussed face to face, if that is easier. At Wilson Partners we appreciate the personal touch is important to our clients and we can tailor your audit to your requirements.

The reality is that audit will ultimately evolve into a hybrid of remote and on-site working and at Wilson Partners we are at the forefront of that evolution, embracing new technologies and practices to enhance the audit experience for our clients.

If you would like to find out how Remote Auditing can benefit your business, then please get in touch with us. We would be delighted to discuss your requirements and tailor your audit to your needs. Philippa Duckworth is Audit Director here at Wilson Partners.

 

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