Challenges in Conducting Internal Audit During COVID Times

We are more than aware of the challenge that the ongoing COVID19 situation has thrown at us. The impact has been so sudden that the business as well as audit teams were compelled to change the fundamental way of working overnight. As the auditing teams were working remotely, the other vital cogs within the auditing institutions were up in frontline, helping the business to enact business continuity plans, or providing assurance to audit committees that controls are still operating and risks being addressed or managed.

With the virus and lockdown measures being in place for some time now, audit teams have become accustomed to the new norm. Working remotely whilst performing virtual walkthroughs is the new challenge for some audit teams, but with agile nature and ability to work remotely most of the time, auditors have generally adapted to the changes well.

Therefore, there is a need to follow norms for maintaining audit deadlines, both internal and external:

Good Communication

This can be easily achieved and it is something which every auditing session has to have anyway. Where a business area has been heavily impacted by Corona virus, it is important that audit teams develop good and regular communication. Through this, a good working relationship which enables .

Clear Timeframes

If any firm is to perform an audit especially for businesses which are struggling under the pressures of Corona virus, it is important that to determine clear timeframes with each other. By doing this, it can be ensured that the audit can be completed in a timely manner.

Transparency

This almost goes hand in hand with honesty. Audit teams must be clear in what work they need to do, what the driver / reason is for the review, and how much time this is going to take up. For instance, Finance teams which may have been reduced due to corona virus will soon be facing the impact of financial statement audits, so having an internal audit team appearing to perform controls testing will be adding pressure for the moment. Being honest and transparent in why we are there and what needs to be done, will help with discussions on the best way of working which will adhere to our timeframes and recognise their capacity issues.

Supportive Audit Team

Applying an audit team which can be sensitive, yet firm when necessary, is important. Auditors should not allow Corona virus to be used as an excuse, however should recognise its impact. Audit teams must be supportive when undertaking these particular audits, yet still remain impartial and objective as per ethics. Not an easy feat, particularly when emotions can become involved.

Deference

We all know that a respectful business relation is very important. By implementing audit timeframes which are respectful of the business area and their challenges and clearly defining the scope to address risks identified, the audit team should be able to gain and maintain respect with the business area, and equally, should feel respected themselves from the business area.

This content is meant for information only and should not be considered as an advice or legal  opinion, or otherwise. AKGVG & Associates does not intend to advertise its services through this.

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