As a former self-described audit nerd, I can appreciate the technical challenges of remote auditing. But I think that the people side of remote auditing--the supervision and management of teams working at home--will end up being more problematic in the long run.
Established protocols vs. figuring it out on your own.
Institutions, protocols and norms exist for resolving profession-wide solutions to technical problems. As I write this, I have no doubt that the AICPA is working with a bunch of smart and experienced practitioners to develop guidance on the technical challenges of remote auditing. They will come to a consensus and publish their views, which auditors will apply. That's how the profession handles technical challenges, and because we have this process figured out, we will see solutions to the technical challenges emerge quickly.
No such process exists for non-technical challenges. Firms will be left to their own devices to address how best to supervise and manage audit "teams" where the team members and the client all work individually from a remote location. There will be a lot of trial and error; a consistent approach across the firm will take a long time to emerge. The problem will persist, with a direct impact on both audit quality and efficiency.
We're a skills development organization, so of course we're going to tackle the people side of remote auditing, namely how firms should address the supervision and team management issues of working remotely. Toward that end our first move has been to:
Write a thought leadership article with Andrew Prather of Clark Nuber. Accounting Today published that article, Meeting the Challenges of Managing an Audit Team Remotely.
Created a webcast, Remote Supervision and Team Management, which is now available to firms and individuals.
The fallout from this pandemic continues to ripple through our lives, presenting all kinds of unforeseen issues. Our goal is to be at the forefront of shaping solutions.