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Hybrid auditing: transitioning to a blend of on and offsite fieldwork

November 20, 2020

It is a crazy time for auditing!

Sixteen months ago one of our team was fortunate enough to attend the International IIA Conference in Anaheim, Southern California… IN PERSON!  FOR REAL!

Three informative and thought-provoking days, real face-to-face networking, real meals with other people, real hand shaking – and real networking.

One of the presentations at the July 2019 Conference focussed on the top enterprise level risks perceived by Fortune 500 Chief Executive Officers.  While cyber security topped the list, the notion of a global pandemic did not make the Top 10.

No – a pandemic did not make any real list of risks!

Fast-forward ten months: The world is in lock-down and Centium (and our valued clients) have all learned to work from home.

We have all had to change.  We have all had to find a way to be successful in the new normal. We have all had to adjust. 

Here at Centium we have adjusted our systems and processes to facilitate remote auditing – with many advantages. For example:

  • Cost-effectiveness – no time lost travelling to clients, no travel costs to be passed on to clients further afield, and less travel is ultimately good for the environment
  • Immediacy – most people are on time to virtual meetings – it is possible to check in to back-to-back meetings with clients in different towns, cities and States
  • “Now working” – remote working has allowed us to continue delivering quality services to our clients, and to collaboratively resolve problems associated with access to systems, people and documents.  And let’s face it – we’re all now better at the technology!

Most importantly, along the way, we have met pragmatic, innovative and hardworking people who have collaborated with us to get the audit done – often under difficult circumstances – even when they have been locked down or unable to readily access their premises. These are our valued clients; working through the craziness and keeping their organisations safe at a time of unprecedented uncertainty and risk.

Of course, this new way of “now working” has many advantages. 

Despite the many advantages of “now working”, we are looking forward to an improved and phased way of auditing that will exceed our clients’ expectations.  We are looking beyond COVID-19, and beyond now, to a hybrid model of delivery that will achieve increased efficiencies and outcomes for our clients. The future beyond “now working” is a shared model of the remote, the digital and the personal.  The future is exciting!!

It is exciting because a combination of remote and onsite fieldwork is cost-effective and can enable a deeper understanding of the business and/or activities subject to the audit. Co-location with our clients allows us to check and monitor specific controls first hand. Team dynamics and culture are also an invaluable adjunct to planned testing.

A return blended on and offsite fieldwork will see us resume a more self-sufficient approach to auditing. Currently our clients are assuming a greater share of document/evidence collection. When we can be back onsite for some of the time, we can work together to map processes, interrogate systems and records, look for patterns, photocopy or download records, and seek immediate clarity regarding business processes. We will also be able to provide assurance that we have seen original documentation, reports and related.

A shared model of working will allow us to work with you in new and exciting ways. While we have been innovative in our approach to fieldwork, there remain some activities where technology cannot replace onsite inspection and observation. This is particularly pertinent for our WHS auditors, in those situations where observation is critical and/or where client records are only available in hard copy. 

At Centium, we pride ourselves on our partnership approach with a variety of clients across sectors, agencies and industries. We believe that face-to-face contact – as well as a hybrid approach – can be more conducive to building strong partnerships and understanding people rather than simply systems and controls.

The world beyond “now working” is exciting!  Whether now or in the future, and whatever the approach (the old way, the “now way”, or the “new way”), we will partner with you, as always, to find the best way and exceed your expectations.

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