How Do I ... Write an Effective Audit Report?
A sound approach to audit reporting can help facilitate the writing process and ensure reports deliver information clearly and effectively. By following 10 simple rules, auditors can compose informative, concise audit reports.
- State the critical issue first. Clients, senior executives, and audit committee members want a succinct description of the issue, its level of risk, and the recommended mitigating or corrective actions. Presenting background first is unhelpful to busy readers.
- Illustrate the risk. Audit reports need to communicate the severity of risk in a way that clients can easily grasp. If the stated issue could lead to decreased revenues, for example, the report should quantify the potential loss in a dollar amount.
- Focus on the findings, not the auditor. Auditors should avoid describing their findings with phrases such as, "During our review we noted that," or "it was noted that." Instead, the report should simply tell readers what the audit revealed.
- Avoid jargon. Internal auditing, like all professions, has its own jargon. Report writers need to translate their technical language for nonauditors.
- Don't rely on the thesaurus. Although word repetition may be inappropriate for many types of writing, it's perfectly acceptable practice for business documents.
- Use concrete nouns. Some writers mistakenly think they can impress readers by starting their sentences with long, abstract nouns. Readers, however, are best served by more concrete sentences.
- Don't overstuff sentences. Cramming too many ideas into one sentence can compromise document readability and confuse readers. Whenever possible, writers should break information into shorter, more digestible units.
- Simplify ideas with lists. List constructions can help readers digest information, enabling them to process short items one at a time. Each item in a list should contain the same sentence pattern, or what grammarians call parallel structure.
- Emphasize potential for improvement. Auditors can often achieve the best results by pointing out the potential for improvement, rather than highlighting the negative consequences of failing to take corrective action.
- Avoid negative language. Using words with a pejorative tone can immediately raise reader defenses. Negative words have a tendency to antagonize and may dissuade rather than convince audit clients.
Adapted from "Write It Right the First Time," by Joanne Feierman (Internal Auditor, "Back to Basics," February 2006).
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How to write an effective Audit Report?
Posted By: Guruvayurappan Mani
2012-10-29 8:29 PM
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