Overview

Field inspections are essential to auditing, and help evaluate compliance with government regulations across sectors. For these inspections to be quick and efficient, it is imperative for organizations to move away from the manual paper-based audit management approach to an electronic, automated system. Such audit systems can minimize errors, and enable significant savings on time and effort.

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Let’s Go Offline - Auditing in the Tablet Generation

Technology is at the heart of automated audit activities, whether it is helping expose anomalies, analyze patterns, review trends, or test controls in real time.

In today’s world, a single weak link in controls can put a company at great risk. Hence the benefits of mobile devices such as notebooks or tablets in auditing ‘anytime, anywhere’ acquires heightened significance. Printed checklists and handwritten assessments are passé.

Data integrity also matters more than before. Current technology helps ensure that offline auditing tools hold audit messages even when network connections are lost. This proves especially helpful in situations where field work is conducted in areas with low or no connectivity. The latest offline audit tools help record audit evidence easily, accurately, and quickly, while also preventing data loss.

Benefits of Mobility during Field Auditing

Audit mobility, driven through smartphones or tablets, has become a game changer. Tablets with e-signature facilities can help collect and securely process voice data, images, videos, and even GPS coordinates as electronic evidence. The benefits of tablet-based field and offline audit systems are manifold:

  • Save time through faster, automatic, and value-added audits.
     
  • Increase business productivity in real time by doing away with manual spreadsheets and printed reports.
     
  • Detect control breaches and loopholes quickly, therefore bringing fraud and errors to the immediate attention of auditors. In turn, auditors can act swiftly to quell the issues before they get out of hand
     
  • Simplify audits, and enhance the reliability of evidence-recording with tablets and mobiles enabled with offline auditing software.
     
  • Strengthen corporate governance, operational efficiency, and business performance through a robust, cost-efficient approach to audits and risk mitigation.

Mobile auditing allows for pictures to be captured by auditors on the field with a camera-enabled tablet. Earlier, these cameras had to be synchronized with records in the database. However, today, audio recordings can be transcribed to text automatically. Thus, auditors can do away with the tedious task of entering additional information after returning from the field to the office.

A tablet audit solution with a built-in GPS device also helps capture geospatial co-ordinates at the field location where the auditor is, thus providing accurate data related to the audit.

Significance across Industries

Mobile auditing is proving increasingly valuable across industries such as Manufacturing, Retail, CPG, Logistics, Hi-Tech, and Healthcare. It is also useful for multiple types of audits, including operational audits, supplier audits, quality audits, store audits, and environment, health, and safety audits.

Mobile audit solutions facilitate paperless auditing, and expedite processes and audits even in remote locations.

How MetricStream’s Client Benefited From Tablet-Enabled Offline Audits

The client is one of the world leaders in seeds, biotechnology, and sustainable agricultural solutions. Headquartered in the US, the client produces a variety of products and services to help customers protect and increase their agricultural productivity. The client also grows a variety of crops across locations as a part of its testing processes. Every year, over 500 field audits need to be performed in each of these locations to assess compliance with the company’s on-field testing policies, and monitor the crops and plantations.

Given the large number of field audits that needed to be conducted, the client faced significant challenges in planning and scheduling audits, and managing the data and evidence collected. Auditors typically used paper-based tools to prepare checklists for audits, record their findings on the field, collate findings, and prepare reports. This manual and inefficient approach made the audit process costly and difficult to scale, while also complicating traceability.

The client chose the MetricStream Audit Management Solution to enable a streamlined, automated, and efficient approach to audit management. Using the solution, audit managers can pull audit requirements and schedules (from the centralized database) onto their laptops or tablets, review tasks, and closely track the status of each audit through powerful reports and dashboards anywhere, anytime.

Once the audit tasks have been assigned, the auditors can go onsite, and record their findings on individual tablets. The tablet application allows auditors to view a list of all tasks and assignments, access their audit forms and checklists, enter their audit findings across different locations, capture supporting photos or images, and then push the results back into the MetricStream web application.

The tablet application also simplifies the process of checking that seeds have been planted in the right location by automatically capturing the GPS coordin been developed on the proprietary MetricStream Mobile Middleware (M2) architecture. The M2 is the mediator between the native tablet application and the MetricStream server, with the server component containing the business logic and application data.

To conform to security and authentication requirements, all data transferred between the tablet and M2 are encrypted using the HTTPS protocol, and are displayed to users based on their roles and responsibilities, as set up in the MetricStream GRC application.

Field auditors can leverage the solution’s mobile auditing capability, enable tablet-based field data collection, capture evidence using native tablet features such as cameras, voice recorders, and GPS, and accelerate report preparation, review, approval, and publishing processes.

The client chose MetricStream for the following reasons:

  • The MetricStream solution seamlessly integrates with other organizational systems, capturing and aggregating audit data in one centralized framework.
     
  • The MetricStream GRC Platform can be leveraged to harness the power of tablet and mobile devices for field auditing, as well other GRC related activities.
     
  • The solution enables workflow automation which, in turn, eliminates the need for cumbersome manual systems and paper-based processes.
     
  • The platform can be quickly and easily extended beyond audit management to other processes such as compliance management and risk management.

Tablets are Transforming Audits

A recent study by Gartner predicted that by 20172, 40 percent of internal audit teams will use portable devices to conduct audits.

As the adoption of tablets continues to grow, more and more working executives are using their mobile browsers to access, view, and edit work-related documents. Archaic processes and procedures are swiftly making their exit.

Any firm would do well to stay prepared, and adopt dynamic tablet-based audit and compliance solutions to avoid operational hassles.

Based on market demand, mobile products have been enabled with features that enable auditors to enter data on the go, and sync it with their firm’s compliance database, even when there is no internet connectivity.

As auditing becomes more dynamic and real time, mobile audit solutions will no longer be just an option, but an imperative tool.

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