It’s a truism that technology evolves and drives change. This has been happening in the audit industry for some time, but its influence and the speed of transformation has ramped up in recent years, says Sarah Butler, head of product for Caseware Australia and New Zealand.
“We regularly hear from auditors now that they want to audit smarter, so many are embracing technology innovations like automation and analytics, and using them throughout the audit process.”
Butler, who began her career as an auditor at PwC, is speaking ahead of the release of a new eBook from Caseware, Build a Modern Accounting Practice with Transformational Technology. Among the emerging technological changes covered in the eBook is analytics, or data-driven auditing.
Needles and haystacks
Generally, auditing data has been largely defined by the year-end trial balance and the transactions that sit under it. This is changing. “Auditors are beginning to access other data that helps them better understand their client’s businesses and define their audit approach. It could be staff -related data, such as payroll, business KPIs, forecasts and budgets, or profitability and performance measures.”
Data-driven auditing will allow businesses to offer clients a point of difference. Butler says one customer who has begun using analytics was amazed at the particular insights that hit the mark with her client.
“In one case, a test revealed transactions were taking place on weekends, at specific times of the year – the client had no idea that was happening,” she says.
Pictured: Sarah Butler, head of product for Caseware Australia and New Zealand
“A test revealed transactions were taking place on weekends, at specific times of the year – the client had no idea that was happening.”
Potentially fraudulent transactions such as this are to find “the needle in a haystack”, says Butler. Analytics technology makes it much easier. It’s like trying to find the needle when every strand of hay is accounted for.
In the past, trying to import financial data has been a burden, both to auditors and clients. The evolution of both technology and cloud is removing that burden, and making access to a variety of data sources direct and instant.
In Caseware’s suite, for example, there are a number of audit, analytics and financial reporting solutions that can directly integrate with popular cloud-based packages such as QuickBooks, Xero and MYOB.
Butler says once direct integration gets to a certain level, you unlock a two-pronged efficiency gain. Not only is the typical manual intervention automated, but the process also instantly maps data into the relevant areas of an audit engagement file.
So how should you approach onboarding analytics? Because emerging technologies are not adopted everywhere all at once, the ideal approach isn’t jumping headfirst into the latest software, it’s evolving at the pace that works for your business and your clients.
“Caseware has a long history in the Australian audit industry that started out in desktop. We’re now offering desktop, hybrid, and cloud solutions to the industry,” says Butler. “We make sure that those solutions aren’t just about the audit but support the work around the audit.”
While technology changes over time, Butler says that much about auditing stays the same.
“When we first started talking about digital transformation, some auditors were worried they might one day lose their job. However, our industry will always need auditors. We need the human, with their professionalism, scepticism and insight into the client, to read and interpret whatever is being suggested or presented by the technology.”
Find out more
To find out more about how transformational technology can help you build a modern practice, download the Caseware eBook by visiting www.caseware.com.au/resources/