All audit departments, as with all other aspects of the business world, are experiencing turbulent times. We must all work faster, leaner, and more efficiently. Which means that all audit departments are continuously on the lookout for new and innovative ways to accomplish audit work in a faster, leaner, and more efficient manner. With that in mind, I am happy to provide the following suggestions on how to audit faster.
Use the Available Technologies
For years auditors have used cutting edge technologies. From the days when we were one of the first professions to use double-action mechanical pencils up to today’s reliance on instant messaging to make teleconferences tolerable, we have accepted technology as an important tool to our profession. But we have yet to embrace one technological advance that has been available for some time now. Imagine the time that would be saved if, rather than walking between cubicles and departments, we assigned each auditor a Segway. Recent research has shown that the use of Segways within the office could cut cubicle travel by as much as 50%. And what would look cooler than an auditor truckin’ down the hallway on his tricked out Segway?
Eliminate Unnecessary Meetings
We all recognize how many hours we waste in unending, pointless meetings. But have you really examined the purpose of each meeting and, maybe more importantly, how it impacts your ability to complete audits? With that in mind, I propose the elimination of two meeting types in which Internal Audit often finds itself trapped. The first is the kick-off meeting. By eliminating this involvement by the auditee you eliminate one set of meetings and, at the same time, reduce the amount of time wasted on including the auditee’s assessment of the situation, there issues and concerns, and their understanding of the audit process. As an added benefit, you are also much more likely to have findings if they do not have any idea what you are looking for. The second type of meeting that can be eliminated is the wrap-up meeting – those meetings where findings are discussed and agreed upon. Again, beyond saving time by eliminating the meeting, you also do not need to spend time getting agreement to the finding or the facts. (Face it, you will write them up no matter what they say.) In addition (and maybe more to the point) the discussion of the findings only leads to tedious conversations about how you found the issue, what work you have to support it, and the sometimes more embarrassing question about what you even know about the department.
Shorten Audit Reports
Many Internal Audit departments have taken steps to reduce the length of their audit reports – trimming the information that is required – and have found this to be quite a timesaver. Now it is time to take the next logical step – elimination of unnecessary letters. In particular, you will find that the use of vowels is extremely overrated. For example, even without the vowels, the sentence “Cntrls r ndqt” makes perfect sense to any reader. Sure it can become somewhat problematic when such words as “audit” become “dt”, “auditor” becomes “dtr”, “executive” becomes “xctv”, and “accounting” becomes “ccntng”. But even with a sentence such as “Th dtr dscssd th dt wth th xctv drctr f ccntng”, most people will understand what is being said. And, for those who do not understand, is it really that important? After all, it is just a report.
Beyond these, there are always the tried and true methods that are as valuable today as they have been in the past – eliminating the requirement to document work, never talk to auditees, and, the ultimate time saver, no findings.
I hope these tips help you become the faster audit department you long to be. Join me at a future date when I will provide information on how to audit smarter, how to audit easier, and how to audit gooder.