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Still on the fence about remote audit? Here’s a business case.

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

· 5 minute read

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

· 5 minute read

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  Laying the foundation for remote audit work

Tools that enable remote audit work

Maximizing remote audit capabilities

Like many facets of tax and accounting, auditing has undergone a significant transformation in recent years driven by rapid advancements in technology. While traditional audit activities involve on-site visits, face-to-face meetings, and the physical exchange of documents, technology is opening up new business capabilities for auditors to conduct their work from anywhere in the world.

But is it really possible for audit firms to harness technology in a way that enables efficient and effective work in a remote environment? The answer is yes—and it doesn’t have to take the place of traditional in-person work, but instead can supplement it while opening up new revenue streams.

Let’s take a look at how today’s accounting firms can use technology to their advantage and maximize remote audit work business capabilities.

Laying the foundation for remote audit work

The concept of remote auditing isn’t entirely new, but it has gained traction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With remote capabilities, audit firms can take advantage of business opportunities in new markets or geographic locations where they might not have a physical office.

Of course, the foundation of any healthy hybrid or remote work arrangement includes the right tools, technology, policy, and infrastructure. This includes software, hardware, and team members all working together to deliver collaborative results. For established firms, this transition can be challenging as implementing new software and processes can be a daunting task. But, if done well, the benefits certainly outweigh the costs.

For newer firms, laying a foundation of advanced technology can embed remote audit work into your team’s infrastructure from day one. The more early work you put into developing a technology-first workplace, the stronger your hybrid work arrangement will be as you build upon it.

Tools that enable remote audit work

So where do you begin when it comes to enabling remote audit capabilities? It starts by understanding what tools are available and how they can make working remotely feel as smooth and seamless as traditional in-office work.

1. Cloud-based audit software

The foundation of remote auditing lies in the utilization of cloud-based audit software. This technology enables businesses to store their financial data securely in the cloud, granting auditors access to real-time data from anywhere with an internet connection.

With the right solution in place, you can manage your entire audit workflow including full trial balance capabilities, workpaper management, financial statement reporting functionality, data analysis, transaction tracking, and more—no matter where you are. These platforms often integrate with e-signature solutions, further expediting the document review and approval process.

2. Data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI)

Today, auditors can harness the power of data analytics and AI to streamline the audit process. By taking advantage of AI algorithms, auditors can quickly analyze vast datasets, identify anomalies, and highlight potential areas of concern.

For example, AI-powered tools can automatically detect unusual financial transactions, discrepancies in expense reports, or patterns that may indicate fraudulent activities. This not only saves you time but enhances the accuracy and depth of your analysis.

3. Secure communication and real-time collaboration

Effective communication is crucial for auditors working remotely. Video conferencing tools enable teams to conduct virtual meetings with clients, discuss findings, and provide updates in real-time. These platforms also support screen sharing, which is an invaluable tool when explaining complex financial concepts or walking clients through audit reports.

Of course, the secure exchange of sensitive financial documents is of the utmost importance. Handling financial data remotely can raise security concerns. Fortunately, today’s cloud-based audit workflow solutions include robust cybersecurity measures that protect client data. This includes encryption, multi-factor authentication, and regular security audits.

4. Automated, risk-based engagement process

With an automated, risk-based engagement process, including embedded research tools, auditors can perform efficient and profitable audits that comply with professional standards and pass peer review.

By implementing a fully integrated online audit engagement solution, you can manage all types of engagements (audits, reviews, compilations, and preparation) and keep up with regulation changes on the go while working in the field or anywhere else.

5. Online confirmation process

An online confirmation solution enables auditors to easily send online confirmations to anyone, anywhere in the world, thus eliminating traditional paper-based methods that are prone to error and fraud.

With a validated network and internal procedures that ensure users are who they say they are, you can reduce the risk of fraud and guarantee a response as part of a seamless audit workflow from a single solution.

Maximizing remote audit capabilities

The auditors of today are navigating a rapidly changing landscape where remote work is not just a convenience but a necessity. Leveraging these remote audit capabilities enables your firm to overcome geographical constraints, work with greater efficiency and accuracy, and boost revenue.

Cloud-based audit software, data analytics, AI, and secure communication and document-sharing tools are building blocks on the path to maximizing business opportunities for remote audit work. The success of any remote audit team rests on implementing a collaboration toolbox full of software tools and strategies that ensure clear communication with team members and clients.

On this journey, many firms may need to establish best practices around workflow, processes, communication, and logistics for remote audit teams. Remote auditing works best when everyone is working together, even when they are apart. The right collaborative tools can make working remotely feel as smooth and seamless as traditional in-office work, and technology is the backbone of a successful hybrid work model.

For insight into best practices for remote audit, download our latest whitepaper, Audit from anywhere: Remote audit best practices for a new era of audit teams.

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