Remote Audits: The Wave of the Future

You no longer need to have auditors on-site for fieldwork.

Thanks to significant changes in technology over the past five to 10 years, traditional audit fieldwork can look different than what you’ve experienced in the past. That means your audit team doesn’t need to take up space in your office for weeks, or months, at a time. And, as more and more organizations implement work-from-home policies, there is no need to stress about being in the office just because the auditors are there.

Moving from a traditional audit to a remote audit is a boost to work/life balance, but it takes:

  • Collaboration:  In order for a remote audit to work, there needs to be 100 percent buy-in from your company and your audit firm. If you decide to go this route, then both parties need to plan out what exactly the process looks like before the audit starts. Setting goals and deadlines are important for keeping the audit on track. Since this is a new concept for you, be sure to plan for a meeting after the audit is completed to hash out how the process went.
  • Communication:  Communication is key! When your auditor is not physically in front of you, the audit easily becomes out of sight, out of mind.  For success, there needs to clear, consistent communications from both parties.  Set up a weekly recurring phone call or, better yet, a video conference to check on the status of open items, answer questions and address issues that have come up during the audit. Having a workflow model of items needed for the audit will also help in this process.  It allows everyone to see what has been received and what is still needed.Both parties should also share their schedules and availability. If you know that you will be out of the office or unavailable for a stretch of time, then you should let the audit team know. Your auditor should share this same information with you. This will ensure both sides can plan accordingly.
  • Technology: The use of technology is what makes remote audits possible. Your desire to do a remote audit could be hindered by IT restrictions at your company. It’s a necessity for you to be able to upload documents needed via your auditor’s encrypted, online file-sharing solution. You should also be able to communicate via video-conferencing. Your auditor should discuss technology requirements with you early in the process to avoid any hiccups along the way.

Is Remote Audit a Good Fit for Your Company?

That’s something that should be well thought out by you and your audit firm before pursuing it. You may also want to consider how remote you want your auditors to be. Perhaps you want your audit firm to be 100 percent remote and never on site. Or maybe you prefer auditors to be onsite only a few days a week and work remotely the other days. The remote audit plan should be a very flexible and fluid process.

Remote auditing is a growing trend. With the right tools and planning in place, you can have a successful remote audit and enhance your audit experience at the same time.