‘Corona crisis’ is term on everyone's lips, and the question of its significance for friends and family is a concern for all of us. However, the initial shock might now be over. The question therefore arises as to what the crisis means for us auditors The profession of an auditor involves a lot of travel and face-to-face contact with employees and colleagues, which is all currently not possible. Travel activities have been canceled. Employees and colleagues are working from home. Has your audit plan just disappeared into thin air? And what do you do as an auditor? Make it a virtue of necessity.
Let's discuss what you can do as an auditor during this time that will move you forward!
As we want to support auditors during these times, we included a special offer at the end of this post!
Some audits are probably out of the question now. A subsidiary in Italy? This audit is likely postponed for now. Do you need to travel by train or plane? You wouldn’t even be able to reach your destination due to a lack of transportation.
Colleagues are not leaving their homes. But what are you doing? You’d better do that too. But what else is there to do?
Let's keep a cool head and analyze the situation first. A university professor I know well always says: "Data, targets and instruments." This three-way split is simple, so let's go over it.
Let us pause for a moment in the community of auditors and exchange views on the situation: I would be delighted if you would participate in our survey of the "State of the Union" – specifically developed for the auditing community. If we all take part, we can report with statistical accuracy on the state of the auditing community in one of our next blog articles.
So, what's your situation?
This survey has ended. Please find the results here.
I look forward to reading your answers!
Goals - how to make a virtue out of a necessity
So, what are the goals in the face of the current crisis?
In my view, the audit objectives can be different. There are objectives that actually only try to keep the costs low in view of time/money constraints. But it is also possible to define goals that are a bit more imaginative and transform the "gained" time into new possibilities and insights.
More classical or regressive behavior could lead to the following goals in this situation:
- First of all, employees of the audit department should reduce their overtime and go on "vacation".
- Audit staff should either devote their time to secondary tasks or look for new tasks (e.g. cleanup, whether in the physical or digital sense).
- Audit staff are put into a "waiting state" as resources with minimum cost (e.g. forced leave or short-time work).
All of these are objectives are designed to bridge the crisis at minimum cost. This approach seems understandable to me, but it is by no means an optimal way to deal with the crisis.
It is now becoming clear how vital digitization is and whether we can digitize. Now is the time to look at innovative alternatives for audit work. Because "without alternatives" is not an option and this thinking should be a thing of the past!
So, make a virtue out of a necessity and define the following goals in your audit department:
- Use a data-driven approach to obtain audit findings while avoiding travel and social contacts.
- Take advantage of economies of scale in the automation of data analysis.
- Develop an action plan to advance the digitization of the audit department.
My personal recommendation: take a few minutes to reflect on how you want to take this situation into your own hands!
Let’s move from "what" (goals) to "how" (instruments). Some instruments were already mentioned above: overtime reduction, forced leave and short-time work. You know these instruments from radio and television - and they are not the ones we want to recommend.
We support you in the digitization of your auditing department. What else can you do now, but try something new, innovative, and completely digital? Here comes the transformation of a necessity into a virtue:
- Digitize your audit: Use zap Audit for a digital audit from the purchasing process, through the sales process, to accounting and fixed assets/inventory. One particularly good piece of news: We want to support you and therefore have a special offer for you. Get started today without a single cent spent in acquisition costs - offer has ended.
- Find and retrieve double payments with Artificial Intelligence: Use zap Cash and let our artificial intelligence uncover the most important cases of double payments!
Both options are very possible, even when working from home!
About the author:
Prof. Dr. Nick Gehrke is a member of the board of the Artificial Intelligence Centre Hamburg, and a professor and course leader at the Nordakademie Hamburg, and Co-Founder and Data Scientist at zapliance. He started zapliance after meeting Alexander Rühle at PWC and set their eyes on the same goal: Changing the way business professionals of the future work with data.