This week, we’re unpacking the topic of remote, or e-audits. There’s a raft of benefits in store for organisations that opt for a paperless, electronic means of auditing; let’s talk about it.
More Accessibility Than Ever Before
For any number of reasons, having an assessor physically inside your walls for an assessment can prove needless with certain types of audits. Of course, it’s preferable, if not mandatory, depending on the nature of the audit, but we’re also moving into a period of time where technology has enabled new types of audits that often don’t require their presence. As Laura Acevedo puts it, “companies that opt for a paperless audit can provide increased accessibility to financial documents and statements for auditing personnel. Increased accessibility can decrease the amount of time required by accounting and financial staff to provide documents to auditors; depending on security requirements, accessibility may allow auditors to conduct their review from outside the business facility.” This means, quite simply, that there’s more flexibility than ever before in the context of e-audits; the one variable at play in this sense is your security protocols. At Best Practice, we’d never ask you to bend the rules - even for our assessors - when it comes to your security processes, but our professional team is prepared to work in many different circumstances.
“At Best Practice, we’re well aware that the preparation for an audit and the duration of the assessment can take valuable time and resources away from your day-to-day operations, so we welcome any opportunity and medium to make the process less taxing on your organisation.”
Witness & Track The Audit in Real-Time
With track-changes, or your ability to watch what exactly what our assessors are doing as they comb through your documentation, you and the team are able to track the process in real-time; similar to the way in which you’d sit down with an assessor. We’ve trained our team to make a comprehensive set of clear, plain-english notes as they make their way through the material you’ve provided. In the words of Laura Acevedo, “most paperless audit systems offer reporting and tracking abilities throughout the auditing process. Managers from the company being audited as well as the auditing firm’s management can easily track and monitor each step in the review process. This increased tracking may help streamline resource requirements and helps manage the auditing timeline. Tracking and time management can be essential, especially for public companies with SEC-mandated reporting deadlines.”
The advent of remote, or electronic audits has also expedited the speed in which a comprehensive audit can take place. More specifically, if you’ve ever been in the situation where an assessor asks you to provide extra evidence of a certain process, or something is flagged for additional reviews, the sheer amount of time spent flicking through your bulky, bible-sized manuals can add up into hours, even days lost. Electronic processing now allows those responsible for providing extra evidence to the assessor to simply search through certain keywords and chapters with a few simple strokes of the keyboard- making the process as a whole unprecedentedly fast when compared to traditional audits. As Laura Acevedo notes, “electronic processes of audit tasks minimises human errors and the need to manually enter information into an auditing system…. Electronic reviews may take less time than in-person physical meetings with paper forms. Less manual work and easier reviews can decrease the total auditing time,” she adds. At Best Practice, we’re well aware that the preparation for an audit and the duration of the assessment can take valuable time and resources away from your day-to-day operations, so we welcome any opportunity and medium to make the process less taxing on your organisation.
Less Paper, Fewer Problems.
E-audits have a three-pronged benefit when it comes to this aspect. Consider the sheer amount of paper wasted when we’re talking about manuals and process documents that span into hundreds of papers; now imagine having a dozen or more of them even in a relatively small business. There are the environmental concerns, which is great if you’re being certified to an Environmental Management Quality System like ISO 14001, which in isolation, show to an assessor that you’re taking the wastage of paper and printer cartridges into consideration with your organisation’s take on its business plan and internal processes. Acevedo explains that “reducing the need for duplicate copies of financial documents, storage facilities and office supplies can reduce the amount of waste both companies generate. Paperless audits use less paper, ink toner, electricity and office supplies than a traditional paper-bound audit. The reduction in paper and associated supplies can offer cost savings and an ecological benefit. This green focus may be important for companies that want to promote their company as being environmentally-friendly.”
Aside from these major advantages, there’s also the benefit of error reduction, eliminating travel costs - on the part of the assessment body - as well as a rapid turnaround time, and improvements to the workflow management and your worksheet templates that can be updated alongside a professional assessor with your best interests at the forefront of their decision making.