One possible outcome of the decision tree above is to recruit local resources. Outsourcing audit work has always been an option, but this approach has changed in recent years. The options group into two categories: internal and external outsourcing.
If there are no local audit staff, there may be other internal resources from parts of the organization that can supplement the team. This could be an internal subject matter expert in the area. Observing through a local employee (e.g., through web meeting) for those audits requiring direct observation could also be a legitimate option.
The more traditional outsourcing model includes outsourcing or co-sourcing with an external firm. Depending on the scope of work, this may be cost-prohibitive. Many teams are now considering freelance auditors. Freelancing was increasing before the pandemic and ramped up even more as a result of layoffs and furloughs.
The audit reporting process usually included a very formal meeting with the auditees and senior management, especially pre-COVID. In a hybrid model, moving away from the traditional closing meeting to a more modern process such as distributing a short pre-recorded video and discussing the issues on a shorter web conference could save audit teams time and energy.
Traditionally, many industry internal audit shops have preferred hiring local employees. Recruiting efforts can now be expanded to look for the right people no matter where they live. Some individuals thrive in a remote work environment that limits interaction with an office full of people. Others are energized by the social interaction that comes from coworkers. As a hiring manager, make sure to be up front with any candidate about your organization’s level of openness to fully remote or hybrid work.
If communication and logistics methods for an audit change, so should the post-audit performance evaluation. When designing the assessment, typical questions might include:
Remote vs. onsite auditing structure will inevitably come up when discussing these questions and help senior management fine tune their audit approach going forward.
While there are likely additional considerations, these 5 key factors will serve as a solid foundation for audit teams to achieve a successful transition into the world of remote or hybrid auditing. Trial and error with candid evaluations of these approaches will ultimately lead to a new and improved audit environment where teams are maximizing their resources, gaining efficiencies, and adding the most value to the business.