Case study

Work from anywhere and stay in sync with colleagues in real time  Learn why Wear, Howell, Strickland, Quinn & Law, LLC chose Thomson Reuters Cloud Audit Suite

Wear, Howell, Strickland, Quinn & Law has two offices in North Alabama with 30 employees, including six partners. The audit team consists of four members serving 40 audit clients across many industries, including government, nonprofit, agricultural, civic organizations, and service provider organizations.

Emily Reischman, CPA and Director of Assurance Services at the firm, spoke with Thomson Reuters about the firm’s switch to Thomson Reuters Cloud Audit Suite. They made the switch in 2019 after finding out that Thomson Reuters would no longer support Creative Solutions. The firm wanted to be comfortable using the cloud-based solution before the change happened. The following is the firm’s Cloud Audit Suite story, as told by Emily.

Out with the old, in with the new

We chose AdvanceFlow and Checkpoint Engage as the next logical step because we were already comfortable with Thomson Reuters from using Creative Solutions. Having a transition tool to take our Creative Solutions information and seamlessly route it into AdvanceFlow was a factor that motivated us to stay with Thomson Reuters. We moved over two to three years’ worth of engagements to AdvanceFlow to easily access prior years’ information.

As a firm, we were anxious about moving to the cloud. However, we recognized there were obvious advantages to doing that. I think the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t have displayed the advantages of Cloud Audit Suite any better. We could easily access our clients’ data from our homes and offices without having to do backups and restores. The ease of accessing our workpapers from anywhere is the biggest benefit we have gotten for sure. We have the flexibility to work from anywhere and stay in sync with colleagues in real time. Now I can’t imagine working without Cloud Audit Suite.

I’ve accessed things from the beach, my house, and even the side of the Interstate. I have literally been in the car when someone needed something and if I’ve got my laptop and Internet, I can get anything they need.

Secure, cloud-based solution

I remember talking to someone at Thomson Reuters about data security and our backups. We were concerned that if we later decided to go with a different software provider, we wouldn’t be able to get that information. Is it really ours? The Thomson Reuters employee walked me through the different layers of security protocols and verified that the information was ours and that Thomson Reuters was simply hosting it. That, plus the reputation of Thomson Reuters, was enough to make us feel like, “Okay, everything is secure, and we haven’t lost ownership of our information.”

Work from anywhere and stay in sync with colleagues in real time

Before Cloud Audit Suite, we were operating as a smaller firm. We only needed one employee in the file, so being able to pass a working paper back and forth seamlessly was not previously important. I could back up a file and put it on my laptop, work on it, and then bring it back to the office. If a partner wanted to get in it, they could, but passing it back and forth was not a high priority for us.

When we switched to Checkpoint Engage and AdvanceFlow, we grew our audit staff by 50%. The ability to work together as a unified team despite being in different places is important. We can work together on the same files and even on the same workpapers. Within seconds, we could look and help someone having an issue.

Efficiency of the roll forward

If adopting technology increases the effectiveness of our audits, we want to be a part of it. If there is something where the benefit outweighs the cost and is advantageous for our clients and us, we want to do it. It’s that simple.

With Cloud Audit Suite, it’s much easier to roll forward audit programs and checklists rather than recreate the wheel. The wheel is already there and maybe you just straighten out a spoke here or there. The roll-forward aspect has increased our efficiency and effectiveness since we can see comments in the audit programs from the previous year. I might go back and look at a prior year's work paper, but it’s unlikely I will look at a prior-year audit program, so if there are details documented in the audit program, I may miss those. I won’t in this case because all that information rolls forward and I can modify it as I need to for the current year.

Also, if we come across a topic that’s new to a particular client but we handled it with a past client, we can review previous audit workpapers and programs. I’d never previously had such easy access to every audit work paper the firm has prepared, whether it’s my client or not, whether we did it last year or three years ago. I now have access to more information at my fingertips than I ever did using a non-cloud-based audit software.

I feel like that is especially useful to a new auditor coming on board. If the auditor before them documented everything, I want them to be able to see those comments when they get into the new file. Plus, the roll forward aspect of having those signoffs and comments in the checklists and audit programs is invaluable to me. I cannot imagine going back to software that doesn’t have these capabilities.

For our entire audit department, myself included, Cloud Audit Suite makes us feel better and truly makes our job easier.

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