Every major business process has undergone a digital revolution in the past ten years. Auditing is no different.
Gone are the days of manual ledgers and ballpoint pens. Today, anyone completing an audit of any kind can take to the web to find a host of solutions that help them store, manage, and analyze their accounts and documents.
New auditing tech is particularly helpful for folks completing financial audits. The accountants of today can leverage a whole host of digital and AI-led technology to improve their work efficiency.
AI and Audits
Artificial intelligence (AI) has changed the way the world works. Advanced AI mimics human cognition and uses complex algorithms to “learn” from data inputs to offer increasingly accurate audits. Auditors who embrace automation can reduce risk, improve their efficiency, and utilize data in new and useful ways.
Auditors can also use AI to make quick risk assessments of potential clients before they agree to work for them. Data analytics can be used to assess prospective auditees’ financial documents and business strategies. Rather than relying on costly and lengthy manual analysis, automated algorithms can produce results in the blink of an eye.
Once the auditing process begins, automated audits can be used as an extra layer of protection for auditors. A manual audit is still necessary, but running a client through auditing software can reduce the risk of non-compliance. AI audits can also help close financial loopholes and spot errors before clients’ data gets sent to regulators.
It’s important to note that AI audits are still prone to bias. This isn’t the fault of the AI software, but of those who create the algorithms they use. AI engineers’ unconscious biases sometimes slip into the code and can result in unwanted discrimination.
Auditing is a risk-averse industry. Auditors have to be certain their computations are correct and they won’t be red-flagged by regulators. Auditors can also improve the accuracy of their work by leaning on software that helps auditors uncover the audit trail.
Tracking the audit trail is an important, but energy-intensive part of the auditor’s work. During an audit, the auditor will chronologically log financial data about a business. Usually, these audits are exclusively internal and track process controls, data policies, and financial transactions.
Audit trails can also be helpful when submitting taxes to the IRS, as clear chronological evidence can be used to verify expenditures and income.
Tracking the audit trail used to be an unwieldy process. However, new audit software can be used to speed up the process. Auditors can use tech like
- Cloud-Based Solutions: The cloud allows auditors to work from anywhere in the world. Auditors who use the cloud aren’t constrained by file size, either, meaning auditors can easily scale their operations.
- Working Papers: Working papers support financial documentation. Working paper software can suggest edits and allow auditors to work collaboratively when needed.
- Data Collection: Auditing usually requires a massive amount of data. Rather than relying on manual uploading, auditors who use data collection software can reduce the risk of human error and improve the effectiveness of data collection.
Auditing software is still under constant development. Today’s software allows auditors to succinctly collect, store, and organize all the documents they could possibly need.
PDFs and Digital Documents
Managing the documents that auditors collect can be a time-consuming and stress-inducing process. Collecting digital documents can reduce the risk of misplacing important financial documents and statements. Digital documents can also be used as part of a more fluid auditing process, meaning auditors can present their findings in evocative formats like graph databases.
Most documents that auditors use are saved as PDFs. PDFs are universally compatible and take up far less space than files like Word documents or Excel sheets. However, PDFs can be difficult to use, as they are not easily editable and may be password locked.
Fortunately, auditors today can use PDF editing software to make minor adjustments and suggestions. PDF editors allow users to add text, sticky notes, and drawings. This process can be completed online and without downloading additional software. These changes can be shared and made available for all other users.
Financial audits aren’t the only type of audit that businesses use in the 21st century. Businesses today can complete website audits to ensure that their digital presence is up to scratch. Website audits can assess a business’s digital presence and help identify things like
- SEO optimization audits;
- Lead conversion audits;
- Navigation audits .
Rather than manually assessing websites, firms can lean on audit tech that can “read” the website and identify its current strengths and weaknesses. These audits usually use machine learning algorithms to quickly assess every available page and tab on a website.
Website engineers can start the auditing process by utilizing sites like SemRush and HubSpot. These site audits are free and can produce invaluable insights in under a minute. These digital auditors use indicators like internal linking, headers, navigation tools, and crawlability. They also understand international SEO and can be used to help businesses reach new or growing markets.
Audits are important assessments of business operations. Financial auditors can use new tech to assess potential clients and speed up the data collection process. Auditors can also work collaboratively to ensure that client’s documents are all in order before submitting them for assessment.
Likewise, website auditors can use AI algorithms that crawl sites and quickly generate usable insights. This can improve operational efficiency and ensures that everyone is happy with the auditing process.