You decided you need to have an audit done, but now you are dreading the process completely. Below are six ideas on how to control the audit process to ensure completion of your goals and deliverables within the expected time frame.
1. Audit Date Planning
Have reasonable expectations about the year-end close. Give the accounting staff enough time to close out the year and prepare for the audit. It is imperative you have a clean and final trial balance before you start, which may take some time after year end.
2. Schedule Communication
Have clear and realistic expectations for an audit start date and communicate to both the audit and accounting team. Knowing the audit start date enables the accounting team to work backward from the date; this allows them to advise you on a feasible strategy that contains planning to complete the fieldwork and deliverables.
3. Red Flags
Be upfront about any potentially problematic accounting positions you have taken. It’s advisable that if you already have an audit contract, you discuss these accounting positions as they happen and agree upon the action taken. If you don’t have one in place, document as much as you can and why the position was chosen.
4. Clear Communication
Ensure clear communication between the audit team, executives and accounting staff. Identify a point of contact on your end to guide the flow of information. Ensure availability of all staff members that will be providing the requested information.
5. Auditors Are Not the Bad Guys
Do not view the auditors as a threat; their objective is not to find fault with management. Be receptive and require a flow of information from the audit team on audit fieldwork progress and findings. The sooner you identify any improvements needed, the sooner you can address them.
6. Prompt, Clear Answers
Prompt, concise responses to questions from the auditors are essential. You want to have the fieldwork completed during the scheduled time. Open items provided to the team after the close of the fieldwork may result in a delay, as the audit team is often completing other audit projects.
Audits are a good thing to ensure that your processes are working correctly or to show areas of improvement. Pre-audit planning and open lines of communication will make all the difference. If you have more questions about preparing for an audit or need an auditor, contact us.
Written by Rally Kamenova