CHECKLIST FOR VIRTUAL AUDIT
As we all try to adjust to the “new normal” which was brought on to us by the pandemic caused by COVID-19, it’s evident that sorting out the complications of functioning during a pandemic will be a long and tiresome process. Though we’re making real-time adjustments, the level of disruption, combined with a primarily remote workforce, has had a negative impact on utilization and morale in many situations.
The Finance and Accounting Department is not immune to the challenges as one of the most sensitive departments of the entity when it comes to working remotely. Despite the obstacles, we must be able to carry on with business as usual as the entries for the transactions are to be made, the ledgers must be closed, financial data is to be communicated with internal and external stakeholders, and controls and processes must be followed as intended ensuring that there are proper internal controls laid down.
Many companies started working together for understanding how they can go about this and make use of the modern cloud-based tools to overcome the barriers posed to them by the pandemic. Because employee safety will continue to be a top priority for CEOs and the management, these cloud-based tools can assist lessen the risks associated with physically working side by side.
Several key conclusions emerged from the studies which were conducted by the companies, and the most important of which were the gaps in preparation for a fully remote finance and accounting function. We polled attendees and selected the top three ways to improve performance in finance and accounting tasks during a pandemic or any other work-from-home circumstance that we are facing now or might have to face in the upcoming time.
And this is where the need and prominence of the concept Virtual Audit is arising. Virtual Audit or often known as the Remote Audit will help the finance department and the management ensure that the accounting and finance activities are in place and being conducted in a proper manner without any compromise.
Virtual Audit Checklist
Before you do anything, you should cooperate with the auditing organization that will conduct the remote audit so that your auditor can explain exactly what they want of you and so that you have enough time to prepare and clear any concerns before the audit day arrives.
Your auditor will usually hold a pre-audit plan meeting a few days or a week before the audit day to give you with a complete audit plan. The audit plan outlines what is expected of you in advance, as well as the sequence of events which basically includes the ‘what order, on which days and at what times’ decisions along with the who will be present from both sides, and which digital tools will be utilized for the smooth conducting of the virtual audit procedure. However, it’s a good idea to double-check these data before the pre-audit plan meeting, and if at all feasible, also to allow your organization more time to prepare, since there are a lot of things to be achieved or accomplished.
Thus, these are certain points you have to keep in the list for making yourself Virtual Audit Ready:
Prepare and Keep Ready all the Required Documents
Asking the following questions would help you:
- Which papers, in what format, and when should be provided digitally ahead of time?
- What papers will be required on audit day, and how will they be reviewed?
- Locate the appropriate papers and double-check that they’ve been updated, digitalized, and exported in the proper format.
Sort your documents into categories based on the audit plan. And for this it will be highly recommended and useful if you are taking the required document list on the basis of the discussion with the auditor and his or her team.
Get all the Digital Tools to be Used Ready
What digital technologies are going to be used?
Virtual Audits basically would use various separate digital tools for video chat or conferencing, file sharing, screen sharing, and also conducting the final review etc. Alternatively, your auditor may choose to use an all-in-one platform. Confirm which tools will be utilised, and then do a risk assessment to ensure that the digital applications and software you choose comply with all of your company’s security and privacy regulations.
Train and Equip your Team
To begin, determine which members of your team will be required to participate in the audit. Employees who will be present throughout the remote audit should be informed on the whole procedure, particularly if remote auditing is new to them and may take some time to get used to. Talk them through the procedure step by step to ensure that everyone understands what’s about to happen and that all of their questions are answered.
When conducting virtual operations audits, it’s critical to notify and teach staff who will be filmed live on camera. Second, make sure your staff is well-versed in the technology and digital tools that will be employed. Check that everyone understands how to use the video software, can mute and unmute mics and cameras, can enable and manage screen sharing, has login credentials, and so on, even if it appears little.
Check and Ensure all Your Equipment and Tech Specs
Check that your internet connection and devices can handle the virtual audit process and set up a secure VPN, which is an often ignored but critical step.
Check that the equipment and facilities that will be monitored for remote audits of operations are ready to be videotaped. If you’re unsure about the scope of your audit, ask your auditor ahead of time so you know exactly what they’ll need to examine and in what sequence.
In this situation, a pre-audit tour of your facility is quite beneficial in determining which processes, activities, people, and places may be inspected remotely. Perform a risk analysis on them as well. It’s critical that you communicate this information with your employees and explain why certain sites are off-limits. Don’t forget to check the noise levels as well. If filming activities live during an audit is difficult for any reason (for example, a camera may be disallowed inside cleanrooms during active GMP operations), you can request to pre-record a video; this must always be agreed upon with auditors first.
Check and Confirm Confidentiality Agreement
This is one of the most vital points. As the company, its management, team and any other party related in the Virtual Audit should not only understand the Confidentiality Agreement but also make sure to read any Non-Disclosure Agreements.
Check and Confirm the Team Schedules
Confirm that the individuals of your team who will be required at the opening meeting and on audit day(s) are truly available and, if necessary, clear their calendars. It’s a good idea to have backup plans in place in case someone is unable to attend suddenly.
Verify what on-site processes will be taking place on audit day and who will be working on those days if you’re due an operations audit. If it isn’t indicated on the audit plan, ask your auditor ahead of time who is expected to attend the virtual closing meeting and when it will be place.
Benefits of Virtual Audit
Following are some of the benefits of Virtual or Remote Audit:
Helps to Improve the Efficiency of Audit
Travel time is reduced as the virtual accountant services in Dubai is done using digital tools and online environment.
The presence of an audit team with the necessary expertise, as well as the ability to connect with and include them in the audit as needed. Increasing your knowledge and control by allowing additional ground to be covered, such as the number of locations and regions. Because much data can be accessed from anywhere (cloud storage), such as a cloud portal, why waste time going to verify paperwork that can be accessed through other means?
As a result, expenditures and time spent travelling to the audit location are significantly reduced.
Increases the Reach and Helps in Mitigating Risk
Avoiding dangerous places to which the auditors might have to travel, expanding access to new places in an easy manner, and tightening control.
Maintain business continuity even in the face of adversity. Some auditing places are difficult to get for a variety of reasons; perhaps they are in a remote area, or specific licenses are necessary to enter – occasionally even visas are required if audits are undertaken overseas. We can prevent these issues with a remote audit.
Enables a Wider Access along with Sharing of Competence
Any audit team can benefit from the addition of additional expertise or auditor(s) in a cost-effective manner.
Increased access to the auditor(s) who have the necessary expertise. The audit team will feel more at ease working from home since they will have access to all of the required resources, such as high-speed internet, monitors, printers, and so on. During a remote audit, productivity will be significantly boosted in this manner.
With the schedules getting busier and tight along with the pandemic hitting us all over we can say that it is important we embrace technology and welcome change with full heart rather than dwelling over the problems that we are facing. Virtual audit is the solution for one such problem which is faced by the companies as Audit is important in the entity by whatever name the same is because it helps us to ensure that the entity is functioning in an ethical manner when it comes to its management or its employees.