Quality Audits Begin with Quality Fieldwork

Impactful Audit Tips to Keep on Your Radar

As fieldwork goes, so goes the audit. Incorporate these tried-and-true tips into your fieldwork plan for more efficient audits and a less stressful busy season!

Tip #1: Know the Client’s Business (Before Fieldwork Begins!)

Time in the field is too valuable to be spent covering background info. Arrive well-versed in your client’s business and industry to maximize your time onsite.

Tip #2: Involve the Client in Planning

Don’t be the firm that only calls clients to schedule fieldwork. Involve the client early on to set schedules and priorities.

Tip #3: Tackle the Most Difficult Areas First

Prioritize tasks by their dependence on client feedback, addressing the most challenging items first to ensure they are completed in the field. When you arrive at a client’s office for fieldwork, it can be tempting to address the easiest items right away. However, considering the tough items are the most reliant on client feedback, addressing them early ensures they’re completed in the field.

BONUS TIP: Expect the Unexpected

No one plans to leave with fieldwork unfinished, which makes it tempting to start with the low-hanging fruit. But delays happen, and when they do, you can save weeks of exchanging emails and phone calls if the most complex areas were completed face to face.

Delivering quality audits isn’t easy. Challenges like gatekeeping responsibility, complex legislation and fee pressure don’t have to cramp your advisory skills. Bryce Gibbs, Principal at KCoe Isom says, “That ability to be an advisor is a result of learning about the client, understanding what they are doing, what they face as an industry, and designing the audit around that.” Take a look at the white paper Innovative Ways to Improve Audit Quality without Sacrificing Efficiency to learn more.

Tip #4: Nail the Client Request List

A strong request list is crucial. Without a clear list of needs and due dates, you risk falling behind before you even walk in the door.

Tip #5: Address Process Inefficiencies

Process inefficiencies are at the root of most procedural issues — fix the process and never leave with unfinished fieldwork again.

Tip #6: Add Value or Become a Commodity

Without contributing insights that benefit your clients, your services become commodities. Commonplace work such as this is easily replicated, even by budget firms built to handle high volumes of low-value audits. To retain clients (and charge a high-value rate) you need to offer a high-value service. Unexceptional work is replaceable, and savvy clients will shop around if they feel underserved. Look for ways to add value at every turn.

BONUS TIP: Two Sides of the Coin

Routinely providing beneficial insights will not only keep your clients happy, but will also allow you to set more aggressive pricing. High-value services command high-value rates. Firms are overcoming challenges by adopting technology that automates auditing processes to relieve administrative burdens. This approach also empowers audit professionals to contribute greater strategic value. Download the eBook 5 Tips for a Quality Audit to learn more.

Tip #7: Do the Fieldwork (In the Field)

Completing fieldwork onsite should be priority #1 for both you and your client. Even if this  means postponing your trip until everyone is prepared. By the time you set foot in your client’s office, your odds of finishing fieldwork onsite are all but set in stone. Planning and coordination are the keys, so don’t let yourself go on autopilot when the workload starts to get overwhelming — stay diligent and inquisitive, and don’t lose sight of your goal!

Tip #8: Get the Most Out of Day One

Successful audits start strong! Your first day onsite is essential for successful fieldwork. However, some bumps in the road are to be expected. Especially, as miscommunications from the planning phase, improperly prepared files and frequent interruptions pile up, they can carry into day two and beyond. Come prepared to set the tone for the rest of the audit and build momentum you can carry into day two.

Operate at a High Rate of Efficiency

Audit work doesn’t stop, even during tax season. Knowledge is the product in a professional firm. It’s the cornerstone of an #AuditorProud and #QualityAudit. Hearing about game changing audit technology is one thing. Experiencing it is another! See firsthand how Wolters Kluwer’s intuitive and powerful audit software can help your firm with these complimentary demos. It can be the difference between compliance and noncompliance.


Bill Hatzos

Digital Marketing Manager Tax and Accounting North America Wolters Kluwer

All stories by: Bill Hatzos