In the face of the 2020 pandemic, organizations were challenged by a sudden shift to a dispersed workforce. Finance teams, especially, needed to quickly navigate the uncharted territory of a remote workforce by gathering their resources and knowledge in order to continue the financial close process virtually. Now these same teams are being challenged to complete the accounting audit process for the last quarter— part of which was performed in-office, and the other part performed virtually from different locations. Additionally, offices of finance might have been subject to a company-wide hiring freeze, forcing them to perform more tasks and provide actionable, business-insights with fewer resources.
Here are a few aspects of audit control that finance teams should consider when approaching this next audit period.
Document Your Process Changes and Controls
The sudden shift to a virtual workforce prompted many changes. For example, companies and employees faced new challenges such as the ability to access sensitive data virtually, technology breakdowns, or a lack of data to carry out the financial control procedures. Because of these new risks, aspects of the close process might have changed. For this audit, it’s important to have documentation of these new controls, changes and testing procedures to share with your auditors in order to have an effective audit control process for last quarter.
As many organizations did when their close processes suddenly became virtual, ensure your management teams are on the same page for this audit. Evaluate what worked for teams during the virtual close process, and what procedures might not have been as successful. Management needs to continue to look at processes and procedures with a level of granularity that wasn’t necessarily required before the pandemic and share that with their auditors.
One of the most important factors of audit preparedness for this quarter is being open and communicative with your auditors. Discuss the critical business issues your company is facing, or has already overcome, and how your organization has dealt with these challenges. These conversations need to happen more frequently and will likely be less straightforward than previous discussions with auditors.
Much of this year’s finance operations have been subjected to unprecedented circumstances, and the upcoming audit is no different. The pandemic has left lasting effects on organizations, and especially on the office of finance. More and more finance and accounting teams have discovered gaps in their organizational processes, adopted tools they had never used before and devised strategies to build a more resilient organization.
Many finance teams have also invested in financial automation tools to streamline their processes, reduce error and risk and provide actionable data insights. Tools, such as the Adra Suite, can enable better audit control processes with an automated audit trail and enforced, organization-specific compliance policies.
COVID-19 has impacted finance operations and will continue to transform finance and accounting processes into the future. To learn more about the future of finance and automation and how it can reduce risk while streamlining your overall close process, watch the on-demand webinar with Auxis, a consulting and outsourcing company.
Written by: Ashton Mathai