Virtual Audits: A Great Reason to Automate Workflows

Few words strike fear into the heart of the average person like the word “audit” does. 

Man working on a laptop appearing surprised

Audits are specifically designed to scrutinize and pass judgment. It’s no wonder they’re so stressful!

The average person probably thinks of IRS audits first, and the upheaval, uncertainty, and stress that such an audit can cause. Whatever type of audit is being done, it’s disconcerting, because it is done to prove that you have done what you promised, and who has never slipped up on a commitment?

The good news is that many types of business audits no longer have to be done in person. Cloud technology has made it so that many audits can be done from the offices of the auditor. And even in cases where some on-site, in-person action takes place, it may only be for a small subset of the overall audit process. It’s easier on everyone and there’s no loss in accuracy with audits done remotely.

Many Accounting Audits Are Now Done Remotely

The SEC requires that publicly held companies regularly have their financial statements examined by auditors, who ensure that each company’s books are accurate, complete, and truthful. These audits also test companies’ “controls,” or measures taken to keep accounting errors to a minimum and prevent fraudulent bookkeeping.

Accounting firms that do these audits remotely are no longer considered “bleeding edge,” and many firms are realizing the benefits of doing remote audits wherever possible. For the auditor, it’s more cost-efficient and time-efficient, reducing travel and the costs associated with it. For clients, it’s obviously less stressful to gather and present documents electronically than it is to host a crew of auditors on-site.

Other Types of Audits That Don’t Have to Be Done Manually

Software license audits are less of an issue for companies that use cloud-hosted software (where compliance is built into the subscription process), but companies with major on-site IT infrastructure still face software license audits for software installed on the premises. 

Software license audits are revenue generators for companies like Microsoft, since customers bear the cost if they are not found to be in compliance. But even these audits can be done through customer self-assessments, which can be done quickly by companies with strong IT workflows that record information of interest to auditors.

Man in a server room with a laptop

Software license audits can be made less stressful through automated workflows that record relevant software license data.

Some portions of other types of audits, such as PCI audits (for merchants that process credit card transactions) and HIPAA audits (for healthcare entities that handle private patient data) can now be done remotely, which is faster, more cost-effective, and easier for all parties involved.

Why It’s Smart to Create Workflows That Generate Audit Trails Regardless

Automated workflows that include steps for recording and storing auditable data make sense even if the risk of external audit is low. One reason is that many companies have strict internal audit practices, and automated workflows that generate, store, and report on the information that may be audited save massive amounts of time and stress.

Another reason for creating automated workflows that collect and store certain types of information is the possibility of insider malfeasance. Workflows can be limited to authorized personnel, and when someone accesses a sensitive workflow, their presence in the workflow, including when they logged into the workflow, what steps they accessed, and when they logged out can all be recorded. This can be invaluable when personnel have access to company secrets or other sensitive or particularly valuable data.

Automated workflows that improve audit readiness require workflow software that is up to the task. PerfectForms is workflow software that allows you to create customized automated workflows without programming. It interfaces with databases, spreadsheets, and other office systems so that data can be shared easily among authorized users without duplication of effort. If you’re interested in delving deeper into the possibilities enabled by powerful workflow software like PerfectForms, we invite you to browse through our training videos, where you’ll see how powerful and easy-to-use PerfectForms is.

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