|GENERAL PLANNING MATTERS
- Documents needed to begin the field
work To assure efficient completion of the engagement, it
is important to get off to an efficient start. One way to do so is
to ascertain that the major documents are available upon entry,
eliminating the tendency to "drift" while waiting for
documents to be produced by the client.
- Specific dates It is helpful to
include specific dates that documents will be needed, when the
auditors will be present, etc., and communicate them to the client,
with a request that any variances be brought to the auditor's
attention far enough in advance to avoid losing time to
- Other client needs and concerns to be
addressed Many engagements extend beyond the traditional
GAAS opinion, to include, for example, consulting matters of an
ongoing nature. A clearly communicated understanding of these
matters enables the auditor to gather applicable information during
the course of the audit, allowing double use of the audit evidence
gathering time, increasing realization rates.
|SHIFT AS MUCH CLERICAL WORK AS
- A simple rule of audit efficiency is to shift
as much of the nonprofessional work as possible to the client. In
addition to selecting and refilling invoices, clients can prepare
schedules, reconcile accounts or perform clerical tasks, such as
stuffing confirmation envelopes.
|USE INTERIM PROCEDURES
- For most engagements (at least for some
account balances), the risk of material misstatements is
sufficiently low, so that interim procedures do not increase that
risk to an unacceptable level.
|DO THE HOUSEKEEPING FIRST
- Did you ever consider how much audit time is
spent in "housekeeping" activities? If you were not
required to perform those clean-up entries for the client, who
cannot produce a reasonably adjusted trial balance, by what
percentage would your adjusting entries decrease? Just consider them
part of an accounting service preparatory to the audit, rather than
a part of the audit. Consider yourself, during the performance of
these services, as the client's in-house accountant. Prepare
whatever schedules you need to support the adjustments required, but
remember, that now they are simply schedules, they are not
"audit working papers". "Schedules" can be
prepared more quickly than "audit working papers", since
they need only contain enough information to support an adjustment.
|HIT THE HARD STUFF EARLY
- Begin your audits with the most difficult/most
time consuming portion of the engagements. Starting with those areas
provides more time to effectively resolve problems that may arise,
including the need for consultation. And once those areas are done,
the rest of the engagement is downhill.
|AVOID THE "DILLY METHOD"
- How many of your audit work papers are produced
by the DILLY (Do It Like Last Year) method? Every working paper
prepared should add something to the body of audit evidence. No work
papers should be prepared just because they were prepared last year.
Every working paper should count for something because every working
paper costs money.
|GIVE UP ON BEING PERFECT
- Accept the fact that you live in a world full
of imperfection. One of the causes on inefficiency is the compulsion
some people have to be perfect, and do perfect work. While all of us realize that perfection is unattainable from a practical
standpoint, it is amazing that people frequently operate as if it
could be attained. Give yourself (and your staff) permission to
simply perform at a level of "excellence". It's much more
realistic, and its actually achievable.
|REVIEW THE WORK OF ASSISTANTS DAILY
- Many organization wait until the end of the
engagement to perform the initial (detailed) working paper review.
Reviewing the work of assistants daily (usually first thing every
morning) brings problems to the attention of the reviewer sooner in
the engagement, provides for correcting any working paper
deficiencies or gathering additional information required while the
information is still fresh in the preparer's mind, and perhaps
before the source documents have been refilled. In short, it eliminates
the need to "re-audit" an area entirely, providing for
|GET THE PAPERWORK DONE
- Sometimes the most difficult place to complete
a job is in your office. There are literally dozens of interruptions
- the telephone, the staff, the clients who drop in unannounced, the
perpetual crises that demand your undivided attention, and on and
on. The result is that the tasks that are frequently
interrupted require excessive time to complete, due to stopping and
restarting requiring that you get reoriented every time you start
again. One way to avoid this is simply to stay in the client's
office. Stay there and draft the report, prepare the tax return,
perform the final review; do it all there.