Top 3 Ways to Avoid Audit Report Draft Ping Pong Syndrome
We’ve all lived through it (or, should I say, survived it): numerous audit report rewrites bouncing back and forth through multiple layers of review. For everyone involved in an audit, from auditors to managers to reviewers, this Ping Pong Syndrome can be a real headache. Some amount of back and forth is inevitable, but a lot is definitely avoidable!
Obviously, GAO’s Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (the Yellow Book) must be followed in the audit work and report to ensure credibility of the audit organization and message. However, the process of ensuring quality does not have to be as burdensome as it often is in most cases.
Here are three ways to avoid Ping Pong Syndrome with audit reports:
- During the planning stage, take care to write well-defined audit objectives that are clear and include specifically measurable performance aspects (e.g., timeliness). This aims the audit steps and shapes the message for overall audit. Most of all, doing this work up front helps to spend less time, and therefore causes less frustration, during the report review.
- While conducting the field work for the audit, be sure to continuously communicate about the objectives with all participants, including ultimate report reviewers. Ensure that the audit team is gathering only evidence to answer the objectives. This will lead to the audit report presenting a sharper, more convincing message.
- With a focus on objectives, during field work and report writing, develop the elements of a finding so that they completely answer the objectives. This will help bolster safeguards against scope creep and lead to a more efficient use of resources.
While each of these tactics is geared toward strengthening the action during a particular part of the audit process, you can improve the audit as a whole if you apply the best practices of each tactic (be clear, communicate, be thorough) throughout the entire audit process.
Experience has shown that following these three approaches cuts down on the time and frustration of audit report preparation. It takes commitment, but it does work!