Paperless auditing is a very important issue facing the accounting profession today. Several firms throughout the world are faced with the decision to go paperless and many are in the early stages of becoming a paperless office. It is important for a company to go at this task full force or the benefits will be significantly reduced. When the decision has been made to go to a paperless office, several issues present themselves for the firm. These issues include the level and how to implement a paperless system, what audit issues need to be addressed in the conversion and use, and what are the pros and cons of this system.
So with all this talk about going paperless, what exactly does it mean? There are various definitions of paperless auditing, and the one we have formed is that paperless auditing is the process of applying audit procedures and documenting these procedures with the use of limited hard copies. The whole goal behind going paperless is to eliminate the paper trail as much as possible. It is also important to note that there are varying degrees of going paperless. In the society we live in today it is pretty difficult for a company to be completely paperless. According to Jeff Stimpson in The Nitty-Gritty of Going Paperless, "paperless, or, more accurately, document management,' can start as simply as outputting tax forms and documentation to PDF files instead of paper, using a paperless audit product, e-filing, and using more e-mail than snail-mail to communicate." As you can see going paperless does not have to be a difficult project, but it does require the organization to commit to it fully in order to be successful. In order to proceed to a paperless firm, a general understanding of the programs that make this possible is needed.
It is well known with the increase in technology that there are several programs out there for a company to choose from. Some of the most common programs used by current audit firms are Caseware Working Papers, GoSystems Audit and Prosystem fx Engagement. These programs are similar to each other, but each program has its differences. First, let's get a better understanding of each of the three programs. Caseware working papers is very user friendly software. It allows the auditor to store any number of documents and file them in any form they want. Each section of the audit, cash, A/R, etc. has built in lead sheets and analytical forms that calculate ratios and analysis. The auditor then uses caseware connector to import Microsoft Word and Excel documents into the file, documenting tests performed and the conclusions reached. Combine this with a scanner and PDF software such as Adobe or E-copy to retain client prepared documents, and it will lead to more effective auditing by the staff. After the audit procedures are performed, adjusting entries can be made, and if approved flow through to the financial statements. The balances are then fed into a pre-formatted set of financial statements. These statements also include the proper disclosures that need to be made. All that remains is a review of the statements and the final report is then distributed to the client.
The generalized auditing software that Caseware uses is called IDEA. IDEA can perform several functions necessary to perform an auditor's procedures and reach an audit opinion. The auditor feeds information into IDEA, such as a check register, invoices listings, and purchase orders. The information then can be examined by selecting random samples, searching for breaks in sequence, looking for duplicates, sorting, and summing the total amounts. These results can then be exported into an Excel file for further analysis.
GoSystems Audit was designed with the practicing accountant in mind. It was designed with the intent to speed up the audit procedures and help document the audit procedures both effectively and efficiently. According to Thomson's website it has many key features that make this...
Cited: "ProSystem fx Engagement." Engagement. 2007. CCH. 18 Mar 2007 .
"GoSystems Audit." Tax and Accounting. 2007. Thomson. 21 02 2007 .
Stimpson, Jeff. "The Nitty-Gritty of Going Paperless." The Practical Accountant 37(2004): 46.
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