At UpLink, we just concluded our first audit (you can request our SOC 2 report by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org). We had no finding and it was relatively painless. It helps that we are a lean startup with two former IT auditors as founders. There is, however, a common issue that pervades the entire industry and plagues organizations subjected to audit: evidence gathering, specifically sample selection from a population.
Let's imagine two hypothetical professionals: the fresh out of university first year audit firm associate (Bob) and the seasoned financial controller (Alice). It is early November and both are looking forward to Thanksgiving and all the family and present related drama that comes with Christmas.
Bob has been instructed to send over the PBC list to the client, Alice, to get the audit kicked off. Bob is already stressed because he is still wrapping up work on a previous client. He hastily rolls forward the prior year PBC, not realizing that a new system has been implemented and several new requests are required. This process takes him all day.
As we approach Thanksgiving, Bob realizes his mistake and sends a request for the new system to Alice. Alice, who wants to get this done as quickly as possible so she can enjoy time with family and friends, quickly sends over the requested evidence and misses one of the samples. All of the samples that were provided, however, are missing a critical piece of evidence: the datetime stamp that Windows systems display by default, because Alice’s screenshot tool is set to capture a window, not the entire screen.
Bob’s firm has “shutdown” for the Thanksgiving holiday, so he doesn’t look at the evidence provided until 4 days after he returns. Bob has a sinking feeling in his stomach as he is reviewing the evidence: all are missing datetime stamps and he is worried that Alice may be angry at him if he asks her to re-do all of that work. It took Alice several hours to figure out how to display the information correctly and investigate any anomalies. Bob sends that email, but he’s going to need a drink after work today because he knows Alice won’t be happy to see him tomorrow.
Alice is busy making up the work that piled up from the Thanksgiving break and doesn’t see Bob’s request until the following week. We are now in December and Alice still hasn’t gotten all the gifts for her large extended family yet. Alice has had enough and calls a meeting with the manager (Charlie), after all, Bob is asking for something she had already provided! It takes another full day to get everyone’s calendar aligned only to have manager Charlie tell Alice “sorry, but Bob is correct, we need you to retake the screenshots”. Alice begrudgingly complies.
We are now approaching Christmas and no testing has been performed still, this is all before actual issues that can arise from the review of the evidence are made apparent, with follow-up investigations and inquiry that can take an additional week. Vacations are common around Christmas time and critical staff isn’t always available to fulfill these requests. Each day of delay wastes the time, deteriorates the mental health, and jeopardizes the client’s operations as more and more urgency and resources are poured into compliance. In our hypothetical scenario, the work is picked up again after the New Year, and everyone starts their year off with a bad mood. None of this is necessary.
At UpLink we are breaking this paradigm. It is unfair to expect clients, who often have no audit experience whatsoever, to be able to provide evidence in the exact way auditors need it structured. Fortunately, I have a background in audit and no exactly what an auditor would like to see when going through an audit ourselves:
An actual sample that was provided to our auditors. Makes it clear which sample is being provided and includes the full screen including system clock at the top of the screen.
UpLink comes standard with toolsets that provide the easiest and most efficient manner of proving completeness and accuracy: using UpLink’s screen recording feature. Clients can simply turn on the screen recording, similar to how you would share your screen on a WebEx or Zoom, and generate the evidence without having to worry about what they are capturing on the screen. Now the auditor has a full recording that UpLink can attest the date and time for without the need to consider time zones or worry about missing portions of the screen.
Notice how before needing to request the files, the client must either upload a screenshot or perform the recommended screen recording to generate the completeness and accuracy evidence.
If Bob had used UpLink, Alice would have used the screen recording tool and Bob would not have to spend limited time and focus on completeness and accuracy. The missing sample would have been identified sooner and Alice could have made the necessary supplementary submission. The timeline for this interaction has been compressed from 4 weeks to a matter of days and the client happily renews the engagement contract because the audit experience was so much better than what any competitor could offer. We spend a large portion of our lives at work, let’s make it a more comfortable experience together.
UpLink provides a lot of features to help auditors and their clients enjoy the holiday season without last minute crunches. Check out a demo to see how the application works and why UpLink is the best document request management software for auditors.