As many businesses are closed or are limiting third-party access due to COVID-19 surges across the United States, auditors will be less likely to visit in person in 2021. Many services, such as year-end inventory observations, management inquiries, and audit testing, must be performed remotely.
You may have already worked remotely with your auditor on your audit, review, or compilation during the pandemic. However, if you haven’t had that pleasure, you will want to consider the tips below to ensure your audit, review, or compilation goes smoothly this year.
5 Tips for Working Remotely With Your Auditor
Scheduling and Planning
Unlike past years, you will not have the pressure of knowing the “auditors” will be here on “x” date. Set a reminder appointment on your calendar when your audit, review, or compilation will be performed. Discuss with your auditor what time of the day works best for everyone before fieldwork begins. Schedule 30-minute check-in calls each day during fieldwork to go over minor questions from both teams and to discuss general progress so everyone is on the same page.
Identify How You Best Communicate
As you most likely will not get the pleasure of seeing your auditor in person during your upcoming engagement, it will be important to know how best to communicate and let your auditor know this upfront. Communication will be the key to keeping your engagement together. Timely responses from you and your team will be even more important in this remote environment. If you know you communicate best with your auditors through email, tell them that. If you prefer phone calls, tell them that. Determining this upfront will help reduce stress later on.
Using Video Conferencing
Video meetings, like Zoom, will be the primary way to communicate during your upcoming engagement. Your accountant will use video calls to screen share and ask questions. They may also use video to perform walkthroughs of internal controls with you and your team. You might be asked to share your screen to show how a particular process operates in real-time. If you are new to video conferencing, please let your auditor know, and they can schedule a meeting to walk you through how to use video tools during your upcoming fieldwork best.
Get Used to Scanning Documents
In past years, you may have dropped huge piles of testing support in front of your auditors. However, ensure you are well versed in scanning your documents to your computer this year. Unless there is a specific reason you cannot scan documents for your auditor, your auditor will be asking you to scan and upload everything to a secure portal for review. If there is a reason that warrants not scanning, work with your team to get those documents sent via postal mail to the accounting office. However, this should be avoided to reduce the risk of records getting lost during transit.
Most inventory observations completed this year will have to be done remotely. However, there may be other options open to you, and if you have concerns, discuss them immediately with the manager or partner on the engagement. The key to having these observations go smoothly is a strong wireless internet connection throughout your warehouse and having two employees involved in the observation (one to hold the camera and one to physically count the items in the video). Your audit team can schedule a video conference test run to try things out before the big day to ensure things will run smoothly.
This year will be a learning experience for us all, but have confidence that together you and your audit team can make this transition as seamless as possible. For questions about working remotely with your auditor, contact us.