While the COVID-19 pandemic has altered many aspects of the routines we were previously accustomed to, the challenges that were met in March and April of 2020 have paved a path for new opportunities to evaluate our operations and find ways to improve. A prime example of one of these opportunities is changing the way our financial and compliance audits are performed. Mauldin & Jenkins has leveraged our existing technology and added additional capabilities in order to transition from our traditional audit process to a remote audit process. Our clients who have chosen this approach have benefited by having more flexibility with the time needed to dedicate to the audit process, which in turn allows for more time dedicated to stay on task with the day-to-day challenges governmental entities face.
Moving to a remote audit does not change the standards auditors are required to follow, and therefore, the procedures performed by auditors would be the same whether in-person or a remote environment. The process will feel much different, however, and M&J feels it is important to discuss the following items with you to plan for a successful audit:
- Audit Timeline. On any audit, establishing a clear timeline for the audit process helps confirm that all parties are on the same page. This is magnified in a remote environment, as it’s easy for the audit to get lost among other responsibilities. At the onset of the audit, M&J will discuss a timeline with you to identify key dates within the audit process, and what needs to be performed to accomplish each milestone. Examples include dates for interim work to be performed, year-end inventory counts, when prepared by client documents should be provided to M&J to conduct fieldwork, fieldwork completion, and financial statement issuance.
- Remote Access. The use of virtual private networks (VPN) and remote desktop connections allow auditors access to your systems, which can provide time saving measures to both your organization as well as Mauldin & Jenkins. We can work with you to identify which modules within your system can be available to the M&J with “read only” access.
- Suralink is a cutting edge software utilized by M&J that combines auditor requests with a secure file hosting system in real time to facilitate the exchange of documents and requests. All requests related to the audit – both initial “Prepared by Client” request listings, as well as fieldwork sample selections and additional supporting documents – are transmitted in one location. Some specific features include:
- Individualized Access. Each member of the M&J audit team, as well as any member of your government, accesses the requests through their own username and password. This allows every action within the software to be tracked, and can provide for additional security of documents.
- Approval Workflow & Dashboard. Manage the lifecycle of each item and easily assess the progress of your engagement in seconds.
- Timeline & Notifications. Set desired timelines for when certain information should be completed, and receive instant notifications of new activity performed.
- Monitor Progress. Throughout the audit process, M&J can schedule formal status meetings between management and key members of the client’s staff to discuss the progress of the audit, and if any changes need to be made to the initial plan based on the progress. We can utilize technology for these meetings, as well. We like to use Zoom or other video platforms to help maintain a personal relationship that can be lost through the use of email.
Mauldin & Jenkins is ready and positioned to conduct 100% remote engagements, should that be something your organization is interested in. Alternatively, we can discuss and provide a hybrid engagement that includes both on site and remote auditing procedures if that is a better solution for your organization. If you have any questions or would like more information on remote engagements, please contact a member of our team today!