Auditing is a process that involves the examination of a subject matter against specific criteria. The most prevalent type of audit is the external audit. This process involves external auditors examining a company’s financial statements. Similarly, internal audits include risk management, assessing internal control systems, ensuring compliance, etc.
Regardless of the type of audit, it is crucial to plan ahead of time. Audit programs or plans can be significantly helpful in this regard. In most cases, having this before commencing an audit engagement may be mandatory. These programs are of significant importance for auditors. Before understanding the importance of an audit program, it is crucial to understand what it means.
What is an Audit Program?
An audit program, or audit plan, is a guideline for auditors to carry out their fieldwork. Usually, it is in the form of a document that states the procedures that auditors will follow during their work. These procedures are to ensure that auditors meet the specific criteria for an audit assignment. It covers specific areas of an audit. For example, auditors will prepare an audit program for fixed assets, account receivables, expenses, etc.
It is also a part of an audit firm’s audit documentation process. For every audit assignment, auditors must prepare such a program. This process usually occurs before auditors begin their fieldwork for a specific client. Once their work commences, they can use it as a guideline to guide them through the process. On the completion of the assignment, auditors include it in the client’s current file.
It seeks to create a framework that can provide auditors with guidelines. Even for auditors that aren’t a part of a specific team, these programs can exemplify the plan of action for the audit engagement. It must explain the objectives, scope, and timeline for an audit engagement. On top of that, it also defines the process for the collection, reviewing, and reporting of audit evidence and working papers.
What are the objectives of an Audit Program?
There are several objectives that it seeks to achieve. Depending on the type of audit, external or internal, these objectives will vary. For both internal and external auditors, these programs outline the audit’s objectives, goals, and obligations. As mentioned, these programs will also differ based on the client and the audit firm’s requirements.
Generally, it helps direct the planning of the audit report. These programs differ based on the client’s policies, procedures, and guidelines. On top of that, the regulatory compliance requirements may also play a role in these programs. Its objectives also relate to how auditors will maintain independence, professionalism, and efficiency during their work.
Overall, audit programs provide auditors with a thorough course of action. By doing so, it sets the scope, objective, timeline, and resource allocation for audits. Most audit plans also define the budgeted and actual time for each procedure, the auditor that performed them, the reviewer, etc. These can also be crucial for future audits. Lastly, it also requires auditors to reach a conclusion, which is one of its objectives.
What is the Importance of Audit Program?
Audit programs can have many benefits, which add to their importance.
It helps auditors plan for specific areas within a client. These programs can provide auditors with a checklist for each area and the procedures they need to perform. Auditors prepare these programs before commencing work on a client’s audit. Therefore, they can plan out for an audit engagement to cover all the risks associated with the audit.
Audit programs are also crucial for quality control purposes. For most audit firms, it summarizes the areas that auditors tested and the procedures they performed. It also includes the time it took auditors to complete those areas. During reviews, it can provide a critical assessment of how these procedures go. In the meanwhile, it can also highlight any deficiencies.
As mentioned, audit programs also require auditors to form conclusions. These conclusions can be crucial in developing an overall conclusion regarding audit engagement. For internal audits, any deficiencies found within these conclusions will get reported to the management.
Audit programs include a list of all the procedures that auditors must perform for a specific area. For these, it also consists of the name of the auditors that performed it and reviewed it. This process can help promote accountability within an audit firm.
Audit programs ensure that auditors cover all the risks associated with a specific area. By doing so, it also ascertains the overall risk for the audit is minimized. This way, it can help reduce the risks associated with a specific audit engagement.
Audit programs are also a crucial part of an audit firm’s audit documentation process. It contains a record of the various audit procedures applied. It can further act as evidence in case of any litigations against audit firms. It is a part of a client’s current file.
The Bottom Line
Audit programs are documentation that provides auditors with a guideline for their work. These programs cover specific areas within an audit. They seek to ensure that auditors cover all areas within an audit. These programs are of significant importance within any audit firm for audit engagements.