Technology has made auditing and reporting easier, but is Finance getting tripped up by a major bottleneck?
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 2008 “State of the Internal Audit Profession Survey” reveals both good and bad news for finance and accounting pros. First, the good: Only 27% of companies have auditing processes that take up more than half of a department’s resources. That means three-fourths of companies have gotten a stronger grasp on internal controls and reporting, whether they’re private or public.
The bad news: A whopping 80% of respondents still spend three months or more per reporting cycle, while another 10% take six months.
What’s the reason for the delay? Most internal audit departments claim to spend longer writing and publishing the report than they spend performing the actual audit — not the best use of resources.
Even if your department’s one of the lucky few to cruise through auditing and reporting, there are always opportunities to make things more efficient. Three keys to do that:
- Give what they need. Finance can break its back delivering the most in-depth results, but do other departments need to see everything? Require managers to list what they need — it makes the job easier on Finance, and other departments will be able to see the numbers that apply to them.
- Make it available elsewhere. Management comments and other background materials might be interesting to note, but are they essential? Paying more attention to the “meat” of the report and posting the “potatoes” online makes info available without sucking up too much of Finance’s time.
- Less is more. Yes, they need to be accurate and succinct, but there’s no need for reports to challenge Shakespeare in terms of writing. Finance probably has a strong handle on the numbers, so keeping edits and redrafts to a minimum can shave weeks off of writing time.