Virtual Internal Audits
With the modern advancement in technology, the popularity of conducting virtual audits among organizations in the United States is on the rise. Most businesses have high-tech strategies that allow the audit team to conduct interviews, receive and share data, make observations with companies worldwide without the need to communicate for so many hours to the audit site. Certification bodies like ISO 19011 are now adapting to this new trend in the market.
To be precise, the latest version of ISO 19011:2018 audit management system guidelines have new specifications for conducting virtual audits to facilitate the transition to e-auditing. It explains why several businesses in the United States are turning to virtual Internal Audits. Even though several audit firms in the region offer this service, it is good to make sure that you choose the best. Internal Auditing Pros has the leading auditors in the area, especially when it comes to compliance with ISO 19011 standards.
What is a Virtual Audit?
In virtual or e-audit, you use electronic means to obtain audit evidence remotely and evaluate it objectively to determine the extent to which the business conforms to the audit criteria. The techniques of e-audit are the same as those that auditors use in person.
For example, the parties can share files in Box, Google Drive, or through email. The organization can also provide the required documents through video conferencing through Zoom, Skype, etc. or by sharing its desktop screen. Auditors can also use phone interviews to carry out the exercise. Surprisingly, it can be more effective to review records and documents virtually than doing it onsite.
Some of the problematic areas during virtual internal audits include product storage and manufacturing processes. However, Internal Auditing Pros use surveillance video or live video to gather audit evidence.
Doing virtual internal audits does not mean that you will do everything offsite. Some procedures are best when conducted onsite. With e-audit, we configure the activities to perform them away from the location of the auditee. However, some employees are not familiar with the remote audit methods, making it hard to obtain audit evidence. Here are some of the benefits of virtual remote audits to your organization.
Saves Time and Money
With the aid of technology, e-audits will help you to save a lot of time and money. Auditors access most of the data from anywhere like the cloud portal, and there is no need to waste time traveling to get a document that you can access from the other sources.
This move will significantly reduce the time and money that you spent to commute to the audit location. You can also use popular platforms like Zoom and Skype, to conduct interviews and observations. So many companies in the United States are already using these communication channels.
No Travelling to Difficult Locations
It can be challenging to access some audit locations for several reasons. The region can be isolated, need strict permits to get access, or need a Visa if you are dealing with an international destination. You will avoid all these challenges if you are dealing with virtual internal audits.
No Need for Logistics
Virtual Internal Audits relieves your organization of logistics such as cleaning when the audit team leaves, booking conference rooms, interruptions to the regular workflow of employees, and worrying about the accommodation of audit teams. You will be free of all the inconveniences that people experience during on-site audits.
With virtual internal audits, the audit team tends to become more efficient. The auditors are more comfortable when they are working from their home office environment. The auditors can use all the right tools like printers, monitors, high-speed internet, etc. It substantially increases the productivity of virtual internal audits in comparison to on-site processes. It will take the auditors a shorter period to complete a specific task.
Barriers to Virtual Internal Audits
Some accreditation and certification bodies have not approved remote audits. Some of the institutions consider these processes to be non-valid hence only support the traditional onsite methods. As we mentioned earlier, the specifications for e-auditing are part of the ISO 19011:2018.
Some certification and accreditation bodies haven’t decided the audit time required to conduct the process remotely to help collect reliable evidence and trust the results. For example, they have specific concerns about carrying out the complete audit with no visit to the location. Virtual internal auditors have the right technical knowledge to deliver these types of reviews.
It calls for an extra effort for the accreditation and certification bodies like ISO 19011 to train auditors on these new techniques. With these considerations, some certification bodies find virtual remote audits to be a headache.
The other issue with virtual internal audits is with regard to the technology and this depends on your location. Most organizations run into logistical challenges. The network connection can be problematic and the auditee can have a hard time with VPN access to log in the database and present evidence. Poor networks can also interrupt meetings and interviews and it can take some time to reconnect and solve the issues. The good thing about Internal Auditing Pros is that they have the best infrastructure to guarantee you the reliability of the network.
Some process owners can be unavailable during the audits because they have other activities or meetings. Our team will make sure that we plan for the audit process to eliminate some of these inconveniences.
Some stakeholders can only trust the process when the auditors have physical access to their audit evidence. Some argue that site walkthroughs provide critical information to help identify issues within the company. There are possible nonconformities or employees hiding information during Virtual Internal Audits. However, Internal Auditing Pros put the right measures in place to avoid all the above issues.
It is good to appreciate the fact that Virtual Internal Audits are the future of auditing. The teams keep looking for the best ways of overcoming the available barriers. You will still face some disruptions and inconvenience in traditional audits, even if you plan for them well. Therefore, these challenges are not only evident with the digital internal audits. Business managers in the United States are finding e-audits to be very attractive. These paperless techniques are highly effective and more affordable ways of auditing your organization. The most important thing is to stick to the ISO 19011 standards throughout the process. The best brand to help you through this process is Internal Auditing Pros.
Virtual Internal Audits
With the advancements in the technologies, it is evident that most of the businesses, organizations are making the use of the information technology a paramount element in their daily operations. All the middle, large and small companies rely on the computer network due to its speed, effectiveness, and ease of business. This reliance on the internet has brought forward the need for organizations carrying out virtual internal audits that help maintain data integrity, adhering to the overall organizational set objectives and targets, and the protection of assets.
One of the significant fields that organizations need to pay attention to is the auditing sector. Companies need to know their assets and have them managed properly and effectively. However, this management will need a much more straightforward way of tracking assets. Having internal auditors do this manually has become a nightmare for most organizations as it will require many resources and time, both financial and labor. So, the automation of this process is a great effort and time saver. Through the virtual internal audits, this has helped streamline workflows, drive down the hardware costs, and save personnel time.
What are virtual audits?
This is electronic and paperless audits that are mainly carried out without any face to face interactions between industry and governments. In this kind of auditing, most of the data is exchanged in electronic formats such as PDF files, Excel, EDI files, text files, and MS Word. Therefore, this can be termed generally as a way of collecting and evaluating the evidence of the organization’s operations, practices, and systems through technological audits. The good thing about the virtual audits is that they will help the organization operate efficiently and effectively, maintain data integrity, and safeguard their assets to obtain their organizational objectives and goals.
The main goal of the virtual internal auditing is to help companies discover their opportunities and their technological needs that define the most beneficial services of the company. This entire virtual auditing process will entail evaluating controls, studying, planning, reporting, testing, and doing some follow-ups. This audit will mainly gather the company’s information, have its weaknesses and strengths defined, and make the vision of the company, and set the strategies needed to attain the companies’ goals.
Benefits of virtual internal auditing
When companies embark on internal auditing, there are several advantages that they could obtain from having it conducted virtually. Here are some of the benefits;
Technology helps save money and time
Most of the companies have their information accessible from the internet portals such as the cloud. Though not all the data can be accessed online, virtual auditing gives the auditors an easy time gathering the relevant data needed without having to travel to check some documentation. Through this, then there will be a great reduction in time and money. The good thing is that even the data that cannot be found on the online sites could be achieved through platforms like zoom and skype.
Helps cut on the traveling difficulties
At times, the places that need to be audited could not be easily accessed. It could be due to some restrictions, or the areas are isolated. And in the case the audits need to be conducted internationally, there could be the need for one having the visas. This can be entirely avoided by choosing to perform the virtual audits as all one will need the best internet connections, IT expertise, and the right equipment to gather relevant information.
Logistics related to auditing are not necessary any longer
When organizations carry out auditing processes, they will need to book conference rooms and the best accommodations for the audit team. Thanks to the virtual audit world, everything can now be done online, cutting on the logistics of cleaning rooms after the auditing sessions are over, booking the conference rooms, and other troubles that could be faced when the audit process was done on-site.
The efficiency of the audit team is improved
Working from the comfort of your home office atmosphere will make the audit team more relaxed and free. This gives the auditors the chance to access all the necessary tools that they need, like the printers, high-speed internet, among others. Through this, the organization's overall productivity could be improved compared to the on-site internal auditing process that is time-bound when it comes to completing a particular task.
Barriers of conducting virtual internal audits
They are not approved by some certification and accreditation bodies.
Some of the certification bodies still consider virtual audits not to be valid. What they do consider mostly are the traditional audits that are carried out on-site. The critical challenge that makes these virtual audits not accredited is that some certification bodies are not decided on the appropriate time needed to carry out the auditing virtually. They have definite concerns about carrying out audits without the physical appearance of the locations.
Another challenge that organizations can run into when it comes to carrying out virtual audits is the technologies’ challenges. For instance, you would find out that one of the auditee network connections is poor, giving them nightmares when it comes to accessing the VPN. Also, there could be interruptions of the meetings and interviews mainly due to internet issues taking it much longer to complete the audits within the specified time.
Lack of involvement
The other challenge with the virtual internal auditing is that some process owners could be unavailable due to their already scheduled meetings. This could be because they have other tasks to attend to at a similar time the audit is being done. In this case, the auditee companies can come in handy by delivering awareness sessions for their team and hoeing them to prepare all the necessities needed to make the virtual audits a success.
Inadequate auditor training and experience
When the internal auditors conducting the virtual audits have insufficient knowledge and practice, this could lead to insufficient audit evidence. When this is the case, there could be some challenges, especially when it comes to achieving the company’s objectives at large.
With the advancements in technology and high acceptance by most companies and organizations, we can say virtual audits are here to stay. The great advantages they offer, mainly cost and time reductions are what is even more motivating. Despite the few barriers, this can be dealt with simultaneously, making virtual internal audits more productive and efficient.