The spread of covid- 19 which reached our shores early March 2020, had many of us unprepared resulting in the world becoming chaotic and everyone trying to scramble. The president’s announcement of an immediate lock down left half the population unable to work remotely and the other half having to adapt to the new working environment.
Many having never used Team’s or Zoom, were now sitting in Team’s and Zoom meeting as a form of communication between management and clients. As a result, the accounting and auditing industry was in demand more than ever, with many companies needing assistances with either Ter’s application, Tax Clearance, loan application and many more services. As much as the world was on hold, audits still needed to get done, because of statutory deadlines.
Perhaps one of the few positive developments of the pandemic is that audit departments had to identify new ways to work and find ways that required less traveling and being able to work from home. This led to the phrase ‘Remote Auditing’ being born.
Many ask what is a remote audit? A remote audit is defined as a new form of auditing which arose because of Covid, during which the physical presence of an auditor is no longer necessary. During a remote audit, the auditor and the entity that is being audited, work simultaneously on the audit project.
This all happens in a virtual working environment where the auditor uses digital technologies and electronic communication such as drop box and google drive to connect remotely and make use of electronic communication to understand an organization’s internal controls.
Advantages of remote auditing:
1. Improving the efficiencies of the audit by sharing data, documentation, and processes reviews.
2. Reducing the travel time and costs while offering high levels of quality and service.
3. Fewer auditors on the work floor, less disturbances of normal working routines.
Disadvantages of remote auditing:
1. Systems and networks require’ s ongoing testing for security, connectivity. If networks connections are not reliable, it can hinder audit efficiencies.
2. Load Shedding. As this becomes a daily routine in South Africa, daily load shedding can result in lost time.
3. Lack of hands-on training for audit trainees.
Remote auditing should not be used as a cost saving measure and should only be considered if the audit objectives can be met, beyond any doubt. Each engagement should be evaluated on its own merit whether a full remote audit is possible or if a combination of onsite/remote audit would be the best solution.
Remote auditing is gaining momentum and it’s a positive thing, however clear, well-planned auditing and effective communication are crucial to ensure a seamless process flow. However, our industry will never be 100% virtual. The benefits of having personal contact and connections are simply too important.