Using Software to Streamline an Audit

Updated: Jul 6

Document requests

One of the most critical parts of any audit is getting the documents and evidence you need to perform the audit procedures. The type of audit engagement and the specific details of the client will determine exactly what those documents are, but there’s always a list to keep track of it all. Some firms call it the “PBC” list, that is, the list of items that are “Provided By Client”, others just call it a request list. Whatever your firm calls it, a given list can be anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred items. Keeping that list up to date with proper status on each request is a daunting challenge.


As a first year auditor, I remember spending up to an hour at the end of each day in busy season reconciling the list of open items on the request list with the items in the shared inbox the client sent in. Keeping this list accurate was critical to making sure nothing fell through the cracks, which could cause delays. The complexity is compounded by the fact that sometimes the client will provide something that isn’t exactly what you need.


Hidden costs

The entire process of requesting documents can be very frustrating for both the staff auditors and the client contacts. What exactly do you need? What did I give you last year? In an era where people expect more from technology and have little patience for monotony, substandard systems can make both your staff and your clients look elsewhere. It’s also a significant time sink on an engagement.

Estimates of the amount of time spent managing the request list from firms we’ve surveyed range anywhere from 5-8% of total engagement fees. That means on a half-million-dollar engagement, you could be spending up to $40,000 on tracking and reconciling of documents.


Custom tools to manage PBCs

Those costs, both soft and hard, have led the largest CPA firms to build custom software to manage this process. For example, KPMG has a tool called LINK, and PwC has a tool called Client Connect. UpLink (our product) is a SAAS application that provides this functionality to CPA firms of all sizes, and it can be branded so that it looks like an in-house tool. These tools basically do the same thing: organize the chaos that is the request list process, by adding a simple workflow to each request. The workflow allows you to track if a request is Open, Ready for Review, or Complete.


UpLink can organize the chaos


Engagement List

A list of all requests on an engagement shows you exactly what’s still waiting on your client, and what you or your staff can review.



Engagement Request List

A list of all requests on an engagement shows you exactly what’s still waiting on your client, and what you or your staff can review.



Client & engagement team notifications

Notifications allow you and your client to keep up to date on the latest requests and submissions.



Preview and approve or reject document submissions


Conclusion


A PBC tool can significantly reduce turnaround time and eliminate frustrating interactions with clients, especially during busy season. If you’d like to see how UpLink works for yourself, you can try our interactive demo, or contact us.