Stay in your lane
The latest technology in the audit field does many great things for the audit focused firms that utilize them. But perhaps one of the most important dynamics it inspires is to keep staff working within their respective skill range. How important is this? Read on.
Diverse staff, diverse skill set
Many firms benefit from a diverse range of players on their audit staff. Whether it be interns, staff auditors, or partners, a firm works best when each work within their area of expertise. Minus this dynamic and you often find frustrations and conflicts among audit staff. And as any manager can attest, conflict doesn’t bode well for long term team cohesiveness or a quality end product.
Audit data errors ambush lower level staff
In far too many cases, the culprit to audit team productivity is often antiquated data preparation steps. To further connect the dots, senior audit team members are generally not where these problems take root. To the contrary, issues frequently arise in the ever complicated process of lower level staff manually managing mountains of audit data. This unwieldy amount of data presents ample opportunities for entry, conversion, and grouping errors. And as you might expect, one costly audit error forever plants doubt in the minds of firm members that future errors loom on the horizon.
The wearer of many hats
How does firm leadership respond to this internal risk? Well, in the absence of a technology solution, the answer normally takes the form of firm managers, and even partners, relegated to the duties of spot checking and micro managing lower staff work. In other words a firm manager can quickly become saddled with wearing many hats, most of which do no play to his or her strengths.
Audit Technology= Workflow Confidence
Today’s audit technology addresses this paradoxical problem. By utilizing an automated engagement solution, lower level staff can focus on managing the technology, rather than the data. In turn, the firm as a whole becomes more confident on all levels. Lower level staff do not feel overwhelmed. Senior staff and partners have little doubt that engagement processes are yielding reliable data. This in turn frees them up to focus on the higher level consultative duties of the audit at hand. It’s truly a win-win scenario.
One such firm
It’s one thing to talk about the impact of a new technology, but another thing to see it actually born out in real life. Brown Edwards & Co., LLP is a perfect example. This highly successful regional CPA firm fully embraced the powerful technology offered within the CCH® ProSystem fx® Suite. With 270 employees spread among nine offices in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee, it was important that every staff member, regardless of skill level, play a part in the overall firm success.
Speaking to efficiency gains
Laura Sprouse, Partner, Firm Administrator speaks to the value of having technology maximize the role that lower level staff play in each project. “For us, it’s just an unbelievable efficiency and productivity enhancement. The software creates all the forms that we need and provides the detail that we need. It saves us time because we don’t manually have to key information.” She adds that staff members also realize meaningful benefits in their work balance. “Because of the flexibility of the software and the way it’s integrated and the way our firm is structured, it doesn’t matter where our staff members are. Our staff can work from any office.”
Perhaps one of Sprouse’s biggest takeaways speaks to our initial topic and how the newest technology addresses it. “It allows us to push down the level of work that we’re doing so that the first review is performed by the person actually doing the preparing.” She continues, “Since it’s being reviewed at this stage, our firm partners know that it has gone through a review process by the time it gets to them, saving them time. This allows us to achieve higher profit margins.”
Is your audit team ready for a technology revamp?
Do you see commonality with your firm and the topic just discussed? Rather, do you see the need for your firm to implement new audit technology to move to the next level? If so, download our ebook 5 Ways to Improve Your Audit Reviews to learn more about how audit firms are proactively taking steps to improve their audit workflow.