Auditing job requires one to travel from one client to another. In order to meet the deadline, you need to:

  • Plan your audit work
  • Communicate with colleagues and clients
  • Assign tasks and monitor progress
  • Share client documents and audit work papers
  • Raise queries to clients
  • Make auditor’s report ready and get it reviewed by seniors

Most of the auditors use multiple tools to plan and manage their work as no single tool can handle the nature of work involved. Let’s assume someone plans the work using a proprietary software, communicates with colleagues and clients via cell phone, assigns tasks and monitors progress via email, shares client documents and audit work papers using email or ftp, raises queries to clients via email and makes the auditors’ report ready in word and then shares it via email with seniors. Lot of time is invested in tracking the documents and waiting for someone’s response. Enter Office 365 Groups which is capable of saving your time.

Office 365 Groups help you organize and work quickly with your team. Groups provide a shared workspace for collaboration and sharing. The workspace comes with a shared inbox, calendar, library, OneNote notebook, and planning tool.
You can maintain and share a calendar, communicate with the team using instant messenger, send an email to everyone in the group and share and store client files in a shared library specifically meant for a client.

We will show you in detail with an example how it is done.

Pathik is working for an auditing firm. The nature of his work involves planning, organizing, tracking and executing the work. He is using Office 365 Groups for:
1. Audit Planning
2. Audit Execution and
3. Audit Finalization
Let’s see in detail how he manages his work with the help of Office 365 Groups.

Audit Planning:

Pathik uses a shared calendar available in Office 365 Groups to plan the work for junior auditors. He communicates with clients and plans the audit date as per their availability and instructs auditors as per their daily work schedule. Being a shared calendar, it is visible to everyone in the team and any member of the team can create and update the calendar making it easy to keep the schedule up to date. If he feels the work is getting delayed, he invites people from other teams to join the group and gets the auditing job done in time.

Group Creation:

To create a new group, Pathik moves over to Outlook and clicks “New Group”

Adding Team Members:

Pathik now adds team members to the group:

Group Home:

Once created, this is how the Group home looks in Outlook:

Work Planning:

Pathik uses Calendar to plan the work. He clicks “Use the calendar” and he is presented with the following screen to plan the audit work:

This is how the month view looks after adding the above entry:

Audit Execution:

Audit execution involves assigning and tracking tasks, monitoring their progress and dealing with client documents. Since Office Groups support document collaboration straight from outlook, there’s no need to upload client documents to ftp.

 

Document upload to OneDrive:

This option allows Pathik to upload client documents to OneDrive and then send the OneDrive link location through email. This way he keeps his mailbox light-weight as he doesn’t send the physical document but just the link. In order to upload files to OneDrive, Pathik clicks Files from within his Outlook and uploads documents from his local computer to Working Papers folder that he has made for ABC International, the audit client he is currently working on.

Since the working papers folder is already shared with his auditing team, everyone in the group has an access to these files. Pathik finds this as the best way to share client documents as now he need not attach documents to email.

Anyone who wants to work on client documents, will checkout the item and start working.

Once the work is over, the person who checked-out the document checks-in the same along with his comments.

OneDrive maintains a complete version history of the files uploaded. You can select Version History from menu and see the complete history.

Pathik keeps track of all the changes made to the working papers by using Alert functionality available in Office Groups.

Alerts help Pathik receive notifications whenever files inside his folder “ABC International” are changed. Further he has options to receive alerts via email or text message immediately, or by way of a daily summary or a weekly summary.

Another way of tracking changes made in documents by team members is to have a look at “Edit Activities” feature available in word documents. It highlights who made what changes and when. This way Pathik has total control over audit working papers shared with his audit team. Further, since documents are shared on OneDrive, Pathik can also take benefit of real time co-authoring and complete his work faster.

Pathik keeps track of the work done by way of using a shared excel timesheet wherein everyone updates the work done. He changes the schedule if he feels someone is lagging behind or the work is expected to get over before the schedule.

Audit Finalization:

Pathik uses the same process for audit finalization purposes. He shares the draft financial statements and auditor’s report with his team and the client for their comments. If Pathik requires a subject matter expert to reply to client’s submission, he can easily begin a conversation or an ad-hoc audio video meeting from within Skype for Business.

Further, Pathik also uses Outlook Groups Mobile App which is designed for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. It provides him the much needed mobility while working with Groups.
After incorporating changes if any, he finalizes the audit and makes him available for the next audit!

Conclusion:

If you are a busy auditor manager like Pathik and use Office 365, you will like being able to use Office 365 Groups from Outlook 2016. Office 365 Groups enables audit teams to come together and get work done by establishing a single team identity (managed in Azure Active Directory) and a single set of permissions across Office 365 apps including Outlook, OneDrive for Business, OneNote, Skype for Business, Power BI and Dynamics CRM.

Further, there are Office 365 connectors available to get useful information and content into your office 365 group. Connectors are online apps, tools, and services, such as Twitter, Trello, or RSS, that you probably use every day to connect and collaborate, stay on top of current events, track projects, and so on. They’re integrated with Office 365 Groups and take just minutes to hook up.

Know more about How Office 365 can be useful to CPA Firms, Auditors and Accountants: http://cyberdesign.co.in/tag/office-365-for-cpa-firms/