In this technological era, auditors are expected to be fully competent and be able to carry out their duties more effectively through the use of computer technology. It is thus a pre-requisite for auditors to apprehend the various techniques that can be applied in auditing processes.
According to Busall-Roach,the documentation of audit data can be improved through the use of Computer Assisted Audit Techniques, also known as Computer-Aided Audit Tools (CAATs). These are techniques that use computer systems to automate auditing processes. They enable auditors to access, obtain and analyze relevant, useful and satisfactory information for auditing purposes.
Kudler Fine Foods like any other business seeking to offer quality goods and minimize operational costs through cheap efficient transactions, can similarly embrace computer technology in its audit documentation and process for better results.
Data validation and system integrity
When adopted appropriately, the computerized system would help the organization in ensuring timely validation of data and system integrity in the ways listed below.
- Risk identification and assessment
The CAATs will help the organization effectively assess financial risks it may face, for example. It will also determine the levels of these transactional risks, identify risky areas and provide the best ways forward. The computerized system will also help in educating the audit staff in current documentation policies and procedures used in auditing, as well as trends that emerge around the auditing profession.
- Increased efficiency, effectiveness and accuracy
Incorporation of advanced computer technologies in Kudler’s documentation systems would increase efficiency and accuracy levels of auditing process because computers tend to be more fast and accurate as compared to humans. The CAATs will also enable easy extraction and analysis of large volumes of data through quick data queries, data stratification, accelerated calculations and cross-checking of shared data. The systems will ensure data accuracy by identification, checking and validation of missing sequences. This will boost the integrity and reliability of the information generated from the operations. To aid in decision making, CAATs will offer detailed systems analysis and suggest possible solutions in areas where problems were encountered, for instance, through graphical presentations and pivot tables of the company’s financial status. The use of computers in auditing will as well allow for timely reporting of the audit findings.
- Maximum use of the software
The incorporation of a computerized system shall involve utilization of basic productivity software developed by Microsoft Incorporation for example the Spreadsheet or Word Processors or use of more advanced programs such as Interactive Data Extraction and Analysis (IDEA) and ActiveData For Excel. These advanced software will employ statistical analysis techniques in addition to business intelligence tools, thus the results would be more accurate and reliable.
Computer technology can equally be used to enhance rapid retrieval of data and information. This can be achieved by using microfilm chips that record and store data though indexing process and bar coding. Adoption of expert system will permit fast and easy decision making at the executive levels of management, can be used in audit planning and risk assessments, and to develop and maintain business knowledge databases that are vital for decision making.
- Easy extraction of data from individual customer files and records.
Electronic working papers which provide for the direct extraction of data from the clients computer records, for example downloading the general ledger for audit testing, and standard templates for use on audits. Computer technology can also assist in modeling of financial programs that Kudler Fine Foods may use in predictive auditing tests. CAATS employ a variety of programs that enables it perform its functions effectively and efficiently. One such component is the package program that is designed for general data functions, such as reading the data, selection and analysis, creation of data files and carrying out audit reports in specialized formats that may be specified by the auditor. Examples include ACL, DIAL, Specialized Audit Software (SAS) and (IDEA). The purpose written programs perform specific functions under specific circumstances. The test data techniques can also be used test the validity of the audit results by comparing predetermined results with those generated by the computerized system. CAATs also allow for test of validity of the transactions and processes.
- Simulation and parallel data processing
In addition, use of computers in documentation will allow for simulation and parallel processing in which the auditor uses a purpose written program which stimulates the clients program being tested. IDEA which has the capability to import various types of data files. With IDEA, Kudler Fine Foods will be able to create databases and import the original files to different fields. It also allows the auditors to browse through databases as he searches for desired files. It gives the auditors an opportunity to extract data that fulfills a certain criteria, look for duplicates of the information that might be stored elsewhere within the system, summarize and stratify the system records and files. A good example is the Microsoft Excel.
Functions of the audit productivity software
The major functions of the audit software shall include the following:
- Creation of electronic work papers.
The keeping electronic work papers on a centralized audit file or database will allow for easy navigation through the current and archived working papers. The database will make it easier for auditors to coordinate current audits and ensure they consider findings from prior or related projects. Additionally, the auditor will be able to electronically standardize audit forms and formats, which can improve both the quality and consistency of the audit working papers.
- Provision of Specialized Audit Tools
Specialized auditing software such as CAATs will provide the auditors with auditing tools that can easily identify unanticipated or inexplicable data patterns within the system. Similarly, such tools usually help in carrying out detailed and thorough analysis, thereby facilitating fraud detection and prevention. As put forth by Puttick, Esch and Kana CAATs help in analytical tests which involve evaluations and comparison of both financial information and non-financial data to assess whether the company’s accounts are presented in a reasonable manner and as per accounting principles. Analytical tests involve ratio analysis, trend analysis and performance trend forecasting.
- Generation of Analysis Reports
Computer technology is also used in generation of data analysis reports. These are reports that are produced using specific audit commands such as filtering of data records and joining existing data files. In continuous monitoring, the system can be used for acquiring, analyzing and reporting on business data with the sole goal of identifying and responding to possible operation risks. In the auditing environment, it is important that the users of the audit information acquire, analyze and report on business data effectively. This entails continuous monitoring of the entire audit system, all relevant business transactions and associated processes and application controls.
- Assisting in Analytical Review and System Testing
The system also assists in analytical review of auditing procedures and performance of compliance tests. This will ensure that auditing is carried out in a manner that conforms to the generally accepted accounting principles and the as per the principles outlined by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). This function is also called the regulatory compliance function. The system should also prevent possible duplicate payments or double payments which would be very costly to Kudler Fine Foods. Customers’ accounts would also be controlled to prevent overdue invoices. To restrict on credit provision, the system will be used to control accounts receivables. No particular account may go beyond the authorized limits.
Other key functions of the system may include the import wizard that brings files into the audit database for effective management, the find commands that performs specified search requests and the auto filter programs that filters and displays data that meets certain value from the filter list. The system also helps in extraction of data for further investigation and may use the export utility to create external files that are used in directly by the entire system and application programs.
Systems Design and the Audit Productivity Software
- The productivity software shall give a guideline on the architecture of the real auditing system. It shall provide the logical design of the physical system and its components, and characteristics based on the auditing requirements.
- The auditing system will also offer an effective ground for research and analysis of the needs and requirements of the end users, that is, the employees and customers of Kudler Fine Foods. Such analysis is vital for the design of the new auditing system.
- The auditing system can also be used in carrying out parallel test of audit programs during the system design. The system developers can use it to evaluate whether or not it meets the functional expectations of the users, that is, its ability to perform the intended functions or purposes.
- Compatibility-the audit productivity software may also be used to determine the compatibility of the system with other programs or systems, and within its self.
In conclusion, it can be observed that CAATs is suitable for use in the organization. it saves time, produces quality reports, and through data analysis and generation of specific reports, it allows for future adjustments to be made with minimal efforts. Allows for preliminary data analysis and hence permits earlier audit plans. Finally, it can also be used as a pilot system to find out the best auditing system to be designed, implemented and adopted.