Tips for Engagement Audit Teams Navigating Effects of COVID-19

Effective audit teams

Working from home presents some new challenges for effective audit teams. Thankfully, CCH® ProSystem fx® Engagement was designed for working from anywhere and creating effective audit teams! Keep readying to learn how.

Local file room

First, work from the user’s local file room. Now, depending on how you configured Engagement, the Central File Room (CFR) is accessible from home through either VPN, Citrix or Terminal Server. Working this way, through this CFR connection, is just like sitting in your office where you can:

  • Check in/out workpapers as needed
  • Collaborate with your engagement team
  • Back your work up to the CFR

Binder package & portfolio

Regarding that last point though, even if you are not able to connect to the CFR it is important to back up your work throughout the day.  Do this by creating a binder package, i.e. right click on the binder and select ‘create binder package’.  Likewise, use a binder package to share files with your engagement team.  Workpapers within the binder can then be assigned to another team member by right clicking on the workpaper and selecting ‘assign/unassign workpaper’. To share the the binder, send via email.

Additionally, use binder portfolios when you need to send files to a third party such as a peer reviewer.  Typically, firms provide a peer reviewer a laptop that connects to Engagement through field mode, giving them access to a single client file only.  However, in a time such as now when we are working remotely, a binder portfolio is a good alternative. It includes an index, like the binder index, and PDF copies of all or specific workpapers in the binder. To create one, simply highlight the binder and select ‘tools/create binder portfolio’.

The above tips ensure that effective audit teams can stay productive and collaborative with Engagement application while working from home.  

Work effectively with clients

Next, let’s discuss ways to make working from home more effective for both your firm and your clients. Following are four examples.

Engagement Organizer

First, consider Engagement Organizer, which is a feature within the Engagement solution. Bottom line, this cloud-based organizer simplifies the process of requesting and receiving documents from your clients. Specifically, your clients no longer drop off or email documents to you. Instead, they electronically send documentation to you through Engagement Organizer’s secure portal. Furthermore, you can insert the workpapers from Engagement Organizer into the Engagement binder. Truly, the organizer keeps everything in one place, organizes both you and your client, and helps ensure all processes are completed timely.

TeamMate® Analytics Test Library

Second, consider the Test Library within TeamMate Analytics. Fact is, working remotely may require you to change the way you test balances. Likely, you may not have access to copies of invoices or other documents typically included in your testing. However, TeamMate Analytics’ Test Library eliminates that obstacle.  To explain, the Test Library:

  • Contains hundreds of sample analytical procedures searchable by audit area
  • Includes guidance on what data is required and how to run the test and interpret the results

Furthermore, create a data request by combining multiple tests into an audit program, and then use that information to populate the Engagement Organizer. Talk about a great tip for effective audit teams!

CCH Axcess™ Financial Prep

Third, consider CCH Axcess Financial Prep’s direct connection to QuickBooks® Online and Xero™. Utilize these direct connections to quickly upload amounts from your client’s trial balance into yours. Doing so eliminates the need of:

  • Your client exporting data to you
  • Having to reformat received data before importing it

As a result, no more nagging and no more formatting the trial balance file. Put simply, life just got easier and more efficient for everyone with this online, streamlined process!

TeamMate Analytics Quick Visualizer

Fourth, consider TeamMate Analytics’ Quick Visualizer to help communicate results and provide advice to your clients once your work is complete. Afterall, the advisory part of your job just got more difficult since you cannot meet face to face … at least for the time being. Video conferencing applications can help, of course. However, important details can still get lost. Therefore, rather than just reviewing numbers, consider creating visualizations that show key trends or other important details. Offering a graph or chart for the client to look at can make both the explanation and interpretation of your findings and advise much easier. 

TeamMate Analytics contains several tools to help you easily create visualizations. For example, the Quick Visualizer creates a chart from a set of numbers. Then, the Advanced Visualizer allows you to modify multiple properties. Also, within the Expert Analyzer, you can create multiple visualizations then added them together and create a dashboard.  In fact, the best part about the Expert Analyzer is how quickly a dashboard can be re-created. Very handy, for when anything changes like wanting to look across multiple clients. 

For more information on using the Expert Analyzer please review the video in our knowledge base article

Considerations for the Admin, now that the firm is virtual

Finally, let’s discuss ways to make your Administrator’s life easier, now that your firm is virtual.

Backup & Restore Utility

Now more than ever with staff working 100% remotely, how you will recover data – should a full data recovery become necessary – is very important. CCH ProSystem fx Engagement has detailed documentation for both backing up and restoring data. This documentation is meant as support to your firm’s own disaster recovery plan. These details are within the help topics of the Engagement Administrator module. Specifically, search the phrase “Backing up and Restoring Databases”. This utility offers back-up and restore of all office server databases, and is cleverly named BackupRestoreUtil.exe. Find it here, X:\Pfx Engagement\Admin\Utilities\Backup Restore.

Notably, the files located in the Central File Room are not included in the backup that is generated by this Database Backup & Restore Utility. For this reason, to ensure a complete backup, the Central File Room workpapers must be backed up using your current third-party backup solution. To find your CFR workpapers, look at the properties of the Central File Room from within the Admin module.

Regarding restoring, clearly it is a critical part of the disaster recovery process; therefore, very specific restore procedures must be followed. Following a specific restore procedure is largely due to the nature of the application, along with the fact that the ‘application document control’ relies on the database to ensure workpaper integrity.  While the restore process can be performed on your own, we strongly recommend you contact Engagement Customer Support to ensure data can be fully recovered.   For more information on the backup and restore process, please review our knowledge base article.

Admin Views Utility

To conclude, our final tip is about the Admin Views utility. This is a valuable tool for administrators during this time because, as you probably already know, the Admin Module for Engagement allows only one Admin user in the system at a time.  However, through the Admin Views Utility, any number of Admin users can now access simultaneously!  Run directly from the server, Administrators can run real time reports (views) that provide valuable information such as:

  • Number of licenses –
    • By product – see if additional licenses are needed
    • By staff – see assigned licenses, and quickly bulk edit assignments if needed
  • Clients by Central File Room – find a binder quickly when a firm is using multiple central file rooms
  • Binder last sync date –see the last time a binder was synced in case staff need to be reminded to synchronize more frequently
    • Valuable functionality, considering all staff are working remotely
  • Staff with checked out workpapers – list of staff with clients checked out to their local file room 
    • Especially useful to ensure all binders are checked in prior to upgrade

In closing, we hope you’ve found these tips for creating effective audit teams while working from home during COVID-19 beneficial. Especially considering the increase in remote users at your firm right now. Wolters Kluwer is right by your side to help you stay up to date with tax and compliance changes and support your ability to work remotely. Please visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Page for Tax & Accounting Professionals.

P.S. Check out this related blog for more helpful and relevant information, Business Continuity Tools During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. #ForwardTogether

AUTHOR

Kim Conaway

All stories by: Kim Conaway