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Repetitive Audit Tasks: Is It Time to Become a Thing of the Past?

Practice makes perfect” that’s probably what we’ve all heard and kept repeating to ourselves at some point, that may be true if you’re practicing drums, cycling in Amsterdam, or trying to memorize a song's lyrics by heart, is it the same when it comes to Audit though? Does the routine of performing manual audit procedures make it perfect over time?

How much of your day is taken up by repetitive work? An hour? A few hours? MORE? Auditors’ valuable time is wasted due to inefficiency and mundane tasks. It’s time to get to the root of this issue, release the pressure of repetition while auditors remain in control.

Performing repetitive tasks on an Excel sheet isn’t exactly fascinating, it typically produces boredom, which can result in blind errors and mistakes. If we leave this issue unaddressed, it can evolve into a serious lack of motivation, feeling like a “robot”, or even career shifts! Yes, don’t underestimate the consequences of repetitive work.

The question is: how can we replace routine with meaning and joy? Let’s figure the answer out by breaking down this challenge, highlighting what auditors love most about their jobs and discussing how firms can improve these workflows.

A Basic Human Need That We Should Embrace; Growth and Development

Almost every auditor focuses on new and innovative technology and audit automation. Based on various conversations we’ve had with auditors (and ex-auditors), they expressed how vital it is to always understand the big picture and the small details; “It is not an easy task safeguarding the public interest”. Auditors’ skill sets and talents -e.g. unquenchable curiosity and professional scepticism- have to be utilized and upgraded in order for them to be satisfied, and for firms to achieve greater results. In simple words, the ultimate goal is to alleviate the burden of repetition on auditors, increase their sense of productivity, and allow them to pursue the unique and fulfilling tasks that motivate them to grow even further - instead of wasting valuable time on mind-numbingly repetitive tasks. How can we reach that goal though?

Automate to Scale Your Efforts and Focus on What Truly Matters! 

Automation will never take over auditors’ jobs, they will always have the final judgement. Audit automation however, gives them more time and bandwidth to add value and focus on what they love most – analyzing exceptions and advising clients.

Automation transforms inefficient, error-prone, and labor-intensive processes into efficient and error-free results, that's why audit firms are constantly considering audit automation and looking for new and standardized audit workflows. However, it’s also crucial to maintain a flexible way of working to meet the individual needs of clients, call it the 'standardization versus agility paradigm'.

To elaborate, on one side of the spectrum, some firms opt for the most standardized approach possible, maintaining universal and regulated process flows with little-to-no customization. At the opposite end of the spectrum sit firms that highly customize their processes based on their clients’ needs and requests. Standard processes can indeed accelerate execution and speed up the decision-making process; however, the world keeps moving, new processes evolve, and audit clients have various needs that require flexibility in providing solutions and execution. Processes should not only be set once and never be refined. Ultimately, you want to reach balanced standard process flows that would accelerate your firm’s agility instead of harming it, especially in a tech-savvy marketplace; balance is key.

“We are always looking for ways to streamline tasks that are labour-intensive, such as matching invoices and tying together working papers. We have often heard from teams across the country that there had to be a better way to perform some of this work. As we delved into the many use cases to see where technology and audit automation could assist with these tasks.”

Paul Vetrone, Director of Audit Transformation & Innovation at BDO Canada

In a nutshell; yes, we think it is time for auditors to break free from unnecessary pressure and get the right audit automation tools to enjoy what they love most. It’s time to replace repetition with intelligent, life-changing technologies that auditors will love. At the same time, creating standardized yet agile work flows is crucial for audit firms to accelerate this automation process while keeping clients satisfied.

 

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