Audit management can be a messy business because audit managers do not have the right tools. Most audit managers must use general-purpose software like Excel and Word to accomplish the task, which further complicated the matter. There are many strategies which can be used to streamline the audit management process and it is important for all audit managers to be aware of these strategies and tools.
Getting the right tools
The biggest problem being faced by audit managers is that they do not have specialized tool. It is important to note that specialization is vital to increasing efficiency. Any activity that is not important or occurs infrequently can be done with general-purpose tools, but any activity that is repeated and is of vital importance needs specialized tools. We have all seen specialists use specialized tools to complete work that we could not have done without tools, and we aren’t talking about people with desk jobs only. When you call a plumber or a carpenter to fix something in your house, they show up with special tools which allow them to work more efficiently and accurately than would be otherwise possible.
The same is true for almost every precision. A surgeon needs surgical knife to perform surgery accurately. A painter needs their paint brushes. Almost every profession has some tools which have been specially designed to accomplish the tasks included in their job role. The problem is that audit managers are being asked to manage audits but are not being provided any tools to work better and faster.
The perils of general-purpose software
Before we get into why it is such a bad idea to use general-purpose software applications and tools, let us be clear that the tools in question are not bad. Microsoft Excel is an excellent piece of software; it is used in almost every office in the world and its versatility is unquestionable. It is used to keep all sorts of records, and audit managers also use it to keep track of everything. However, it is important to note that this general-purpose software does not contain any tools specifically made for audit managers.
While it is possible to manage audits with Microsoft Excel, just like it is possible to perform surgery with a very sharp kitchen knife, the performance simply cannot be compared to a proper specialized tool being used.
This leads to several problems for the audit managers. Excel has no way of alerting the manager about upcoming audits. Most audit managers end up taking the data from Excel and put it on their Outlook calendar to ensure that they will get a reminder. This is also a problem – now we have two data points that should always correlate but there is no link between them. Someone may change the scheduling in the Excel file, which would make the Outlook reminders useless. Such problems are common in ad-hoc solutions that work on general purpose software. Important tools and features are impossible to replicate because the software application in question was never designed for the purpose it is being used for.
The features you only find in audit management software solutions
One of the most useful features for audit managers in audit management software is the audit calendar. The audit calendar is a calendar where, as the name suggests, a record of all audit dates is kept, but the functionality goes much deeper than that. The calendar also has notifications for when the audit is near, which ensures that the schedule is followed. More importantly, the calendar also allows audit managers to drill down into the audit get more information. If they see that an audit is scheduled, they can simply click on it to view more details. They can also go through the audit that have already been completed to view the results and follow up on corrective actions.
All of this allows them to remove the administrative clutter from their job and instead focus on managing audits. Instead of having to spend hours on collecting information they can get right to work. This also creates an electronic audit trails which can be shown to external auditors to prove the organization’s dedication to compliance and ethics.