Introduction to Remote Internal Audit
Remote Internal Audit refers to Internal Audit conducted by teams without physical presence at the site of the audit. All the information exchange, evidence gathering and interaction with the auditee/client happens through modern means of telecommunication including email, phone call, video conferencing, file sharing over internet, etc. The Internal Auditor and the client/auditee may be in different geographies and different time zones.
Mind set change leading to new culture
Usually the internal audit team travels to the client/auditee locations for a period ranging from weeks to months. This pandemic has reluctantly made businesses accept a work-from-home culture and change its mind set towards physical presence of employees in office for certain back-end functions such as accounting, HR, procurement, etc. and also core operations to some extent in case of service sectors.
Technology leading the change
Thanks to the modern technologies such as ERP Software and cloud infrastructure coupled with VPN technology, business owners have realized that employees can be given secured access to the servers for recording data and accounting of transactions right from their dining table at home. The additional cost towards the IT Infrastructure is easily outweighed by the savings on office rentals, office management expenses and travel cost of employees. Although some may disagree, the elimination of fatigue from travel leads to improved employee efficiency.
It is the right time for Remote Internal Audit
With all the relevant information available online, Audit teams are equipped to conduct remote internal audit without investing time in travel. Performing audit procedures and gathering of evidence can be done through direct online connection with the information system of the client/auditee.
However, apart from performing audit procedures, an Internal Audit also requires conducting interviews to understanding of business processes. With some limitations, this can be done in any part of the world through video conferencing and whiteboard sharing with process owners, and by studying documented Standard Operating Procedures and Company Policies.
Benefits of Remote Internal Audit
- Client team/Auditee is saved from the inconvenience and time consumption caused by full time presence of auditors.
- Remote Internal Audit eliminates travel time and cost.
- Client gets access to larger pool of talented audit firms across the globe.
- Clients can widen the coverage of the audit as a result of the savings of time and money achieved through Remote Internal Audit.
It about time that companies reset their priorities. As companies go online, internal audit services can too. By availing internal audit services now, companies will gain access the expert guidance on preparing for the future. Companies need to find ways to become leaners and more resistant to such crisis in future, and this can be achieved by hiring experts to conduct internal audits on a regular basis.
There are definite challenges that organizations are facing in every aspect of their business in a post-COVID world. Remote Internal Audit is a viable solution to achieve a high-level of assurance and avail profession advise on overcoming these challenges. It is a way to preserve and enhance value of the organization. By offshoring internal audits, companies get the following value additions by way of:
- Exposure of business to global practices and standards.
- Adding a new perspective and though process.
- Gaining from diverse experience of professionals across geographies.
(The author is a subject matter expert on internal audit with more than 16 years of experience. She is leading a Chartered Accountant firm and has served various large, medium and small sized companies.)