External and internal audits require intense work which makes it highly unpopular among employees. However, the processes are crucial since they heighten data security in the organization. Is there a way to implement the audit plans more conveniently?
Yes! Just adopt a workflow audit management process.
This approach will revolutionize the process which will consequently save you money and employees’ time.
Audit Workflow Management
Why is it Time-Consuming?
Documentation and communication form the most crucial pillar for the audit process. Whether you’re dealing with internal or external auditors, the first process will always be a request for the organization’s relevant documents.
As the process progresses, the auditors will require to communicate with your organization’s staff. After the conclusion of the process, the auditors will have a follow-up meeting with the management to table and discuss the findings. This shows how proper communication and documentation aid in getting accurate audit reports.
The trick is the time that you require to fulfill the documentation and communication processes successfully! It includes scheduling meetings, tracking documents, and identifying the departments responsible for specific auditor queries. If these schedules conflict, it’ll result in postponement and delays thus making the entire process time-consuming.
Importance of Streamlining the Audit Process
Streamlining the process saves you money and time. The audit process is expensive since most external auditors charge hourly! As such, the more time you spend on the process, the more expensive it becomes. Communication lags and delays in response among employees can cause an unprecedented rise in the cost of the audits which makes it extremely necessary to streamline the process.
If you’re not keen, you may fail to meet the deadline of specific regulatory bodies which will result in non-compliance and unnecessary fines. As such, if the process is not coordinated appropriately, you’re likely to incur unnecessarily high costs of compliance.
What is Internal Audit Process?
The process involves eleven distinct stages which require effective communication between all parties involved (auditors, IT department, and management) and other stakeholders. Some of the crucial stages include:
The internal auditor should determine the scope and objectives of the entire process. At this stage, there should be a time frame for each activity including scheduling for meetings and asking for documentation.
Once your auditors obtain all the documents required, they will assess the company’s risks and the various controls in place. The auditors will determine whether your plans align with the requirements of various standards and regulations. For example, HIPAA compliance demands role-based access right as a necessary data protection measure.
This involves the physical auditor’s appearance at various departments in your organization to observe your practices and determine compliance with various regulations. Ensure that all security controls are up to standards to accelerate your compliance process. When they visit your organization, the auditor will call for impromptu meetings with your staff to inquire about the day-to-day operations of the company. This is crucial in determining whether your activities comply with various standards and regulations!
Before they compile the reports, the auditors will need to follow-up to identify the cause of various discrepancies in the documents. For example, they will ask for access rights review report if they miss it in the submitted documents. They are also at liberty to seek clarifications on employees’ responses.
This is the most critical step! Auditors will issue a draft report at this juncture. The report will determine your strengths and weaknesses. After the management receives the draft, they are allowed time to respond to the findings. If you have any problem with the draft, you’ll have the opportunity to send more documents to counter specific findings before the auditors prepare the final draft.
If the audit report highlights various weakness that may prevent you from being compliant, you may provide a list to show the measures you’ve instituted to remediate the process. For example, if the auditors highlighted the lack of access rights, you must show the processes you’ve put in place to ensure data protection.
Benefits of an Audit Workflow on Communication
When you have an adequate audit workflow, you’ll improve your communication and reduce the time needed for audits. This will consequently save you money and employees’ time. The workflow assigns every individual specific role thus making it easy to coordinate the communication processes among all the stakeholders.
Benefits of Automating Audit Workflows
Automated tools play a critical role in streamlining communication and managing various tasks. It becomes easy for duty delegation which effectively eliminates confusion in communications which would otherwise lead to delays. Since this exercise can be time-consuming, you should consider implementing automated tools to track documents, manage deadlines, and coordinate the duties of all the stakeholders. This way, you will save money, time, and leave the employees to work on the daily operational activities of the company.