In October, our Senior Business Development Manager Lindsay Wemyss caught up with Haysmacintyre’s Head of Audit & Assurance David Cox and Audit Senior Manager Lotte Williams. They discussed how accounting firms can leverage new technology to digitise client services and improve audit quality with Haysmacintyre providing some valuable insights of how they have overcome some of the challenges when introducing technology across their audit process.
For the past 10 years, Haysmacintyre have been using the same technology which was predominately made up of applications on servers hosted in their office. A few years ago, they started the process of moving all applications into the cloud and successfully completed that at the start of 2020 ahead of a UK-wide lockdown in March. This accelerated the move towards agile working and enabled Haysmacintyre to move all their teams out of the office and off client sites in 48 hours.
Remote auditing has been challenging for many other firms, but technology has enabled Haysmacintyre to continue to provide a high-quality audit service during the last seven months. With the improvement of audit quality being Haysmacintyre’s number one priority, technology has enabled them to automate audit tasks to ensure a more consistent high-quality approach and make things a little easier for both them and their clients in the current climate.
Both David and Lotte share their experiences of adopting a series of Inflo modules into their processes…
Let’s start with Inflo Collaborate
One of the most useful tools we have been using for our audits over the last 12 months is Inflo’s Collaborate module, a digital file sharing platform and a project management tool. We started the year using Collaborate for a few of our clients as a trial looking into the technology and trying to see how we can roll it out from March when the UK goes into lockdown. However, because of the noticeable benefits, we ended up rolling it out much quicker and used the module in over 500 audits during the past seven months which has made a massive difference how we organise the information flow between us and our clients.
A smarter way of obtaining information
Inflo’s Collaborate module has really helped transform our processes and keep all client information in one central hub. We have saved time in the long run whereby we can send a full list of requests to our clients by category, they can then go in and upload those documents against each of those requests and we can easily see an update of the status of each request. Everyone in the audit engagement team has access to the platform so they can all see at one point in time what is outstanding, what’s being received and what hasn’t.
Another area where we are using new technology is around data ingestion. We are now asking our clients to upload their trial balance and general ledger data into another Inflo module called Ingest which is where that data gets ingested. By doing so, we can process it and put it into a standardised format which really helps us to have easy access to the trial balances and general ledger for our analytical review, really getting into that granular level detail of the transactions that we now have access to.
“The real advantage that we found is where the client has large sets of data, which may be a bit difficult to sift through in Excel. With Inflo Ingest, we can easily look at this data in a user-friendly format and we can drill down into each trial balance code and see what the reason for the fluctuations are.”
One area where we’ve found that technology has really helped us is to improve our audit quality and client reporting is around journals testing using Inflo’s Detect module. Detect looks at all the entries that have been posted in the journals and all transactions and then analyses each transaction. It does this by running a series of tests, such as anything with a large number, anything from related party transactions that it can see any unusual combinations of journals, anything unusual around the time of the day of transaction and so forth, then providing each type of transaction a risk scoring based on those criteria.
“By using Detect, our audit team can easily go in and see what transactions in the year have got the highest risk, draw out some of those unusual characteristics within the client’s data set and report this back to the client, showing them the kind of the trends which most of them won’t be aware of.”
It is worth the investment
By adopting any new technology, there is always an initial investment of time to understand how it works and how to get it up and running, but in the long run, the benefits outweigh the initial set up process. Let’s take Inflo Collaborate as an example, it takes a bit of time training the staff but once it’s up and running and everyone knows how to use it, the timesaving and efficiency of having everything in one place and being able to easily share information definitely has a huge benefit to both us and our clients.