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Tips for a Smooth Audit

The following tips are intended to assist your department in having a successful and smooth audit. Tips are based on our experience with and feedback from audits performed in a variety of university departments, service centers, etc. Please feel free to contact us if you have concerns about how to best incorporate these proactive steps in your audit.

Tip #1: Understand your role in the audit process

o   Department Management – As department management you will be asked to discuss your department’s strategies and operations; you may be asked to provide documentation that supports your department’s activities, policies, and procedures; as the audit concludes, you will be presented with a list of risks identified during the audit and will be asked to respond to our observations and recommendations

o   Process Owner – Each process included under the audit typically has one or two process owners. These individuals regularly perform the process and can explain the nature and timing of their activities. For example, if we are auditing cash handling we would meet with the person (or people) who collect, deposit, and reconcile or review cash.

Tip #2: Assign an audit liaison

o   Audit Liaison – An audit liaison can help to smooth out the audit process by being the go-to person for the auditor or audit team. This person will receive all audit requests and redirect those requests to the appropriate department representatives. The audit liaison will then collect audit requests and forward them to the auditor according to agreed upon deadlines. Using an audit liaison will help your department keep track of audit requests and keep the audit moving along smoothly.

Tip #3: Understand the audit process

o   Audit Planning – In the audit planning phase, the auditor determines the objectives, scope, timing, and resources needed for the audit. Your department will be provided with an overview of the audit during an introductory meeting. This is the time to speak up if you have concerns about the audit timing or approach.

o   Assessing the Design of Internal Controls – During this phase of the audit the auditor will meet with the various process owners to gain an understanding of activities and controls. Having ready examples of typical documents used in a process can greatly assist in the interview process whereby the auditor gains an understanding of how your department operates.

o   Testing Transactions and Analyze Results – Testing transactions helps the auditor to confirm that activities were described accurately and that internal controls are working effectively. Your department will be asked to provide a population of transactions; once selections have been made evidence of each transaction will be requested.

o   Reporting – During this phase the auditor will present the results of the audit, including identified risks, observations, and recommendations for improved internal control, management oversight, or general process improvements. Department management will be asked to provide a written response to each recommendation.

Tip #4: Address audit challenges

o   Miscommunications – Take the time to teach the auditor how you describe activities within your department so that you are speaking the same language. Ask for clarification if the auditor asks for something (using terminology you are not familiar with) before spending time gathering what may be the wrong information.

o   Scheduling Issues – Provide your schedule and any timing constraints to the auditors as soon as you are notified of a pending audit. Please understand, however, that there is often never an ideal time for an audit; some flexibility in the timing of the audit may be possible, but it is in everyone’s best interest to establish a schedule and stick to it.

o   Disclose Known Issues – Outline your department’s strengths and weaknesses so that the auditor will spend less time finding things that you already know and will potentially allocate more time to collaborating with you on practical solutions to address your department’s issues.

o   Ask Questions – To increase your ability to provide the auditors with what they need, ask the auditors how the audit area was selected. Understanding the objective of the auditor’s questions or testing will help you both to approach each issue effectively and efficiently.

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