You can kill an auditor in 10 easy steps. If you’re a manager, it’s even easier. Here’s how:
1. Insist that all periods are followed by 2 spaces. Those days are long gone and so are typewriters. But some managers who review workpapers still insist on this. No kidding!
A little help for non-auditors: a workpaper describes 1) the control being tested, 2) the steps used to select samples and perform the test, 3) the evidence gathered and how it was analyzed, 4) the conclusion, and if the test failed, usually 5) a broad recommendation of what might be done to resolve it.
2. When reviewing workpapers electronically, question an obvious mistake instead of correcting it. For example, I numbered my test steps 1, 2, 3, 5. Just fix it and move on. Don’t waste your time and mine writing things like “is this number correct?” and then sending it back to me to fix it, especially when it’s the only correction in the workpaper. Just fix it! If multiple errors exist, say something to me or send it back and ask me to review all numbers and references. By pointing out a single error, you are wasting shareholder dollars. I sure hope you feel better now!
3. Demand a workpaper be reorganized because that’s not how YOU would do it. Doing something WRONG is not the same as doing something differently. Discern the difference and accept other approaches. If you can’t explain to me why my way is incorrect, misleading, or impossible to understand, AND how your method ADDS VALUE, then give it up already.
4. For the same EXACT control, request additional testing be done for system A when you requested less testing for system B. Especially when the only difference is that one systems serves Asia and the other serves Europe; same software version, same hardware, same administrator, same controls, same number of users, same everything… I think you’re forgetting that this “leadership” frustrates my auditees also, especially when I cannot give them a good reason why I’m bothering them again.
5. Constantly criticize workpapers in general terms, but never give any details or examples as to how to do it differently.
6. Discourage using ACL or other data analytic techniques because you don’t understand them. For more details, see Why not more data analytics?
7. Constantly remind me to do things that I’ve never forgotten to do in the past. I have years of experience. Just because you’re nervous that I won’t CC the CAE and Legal on the final report doesn’t mean I have a problem. Uh, I think YOU have a problem.
8. Insist on a specific testing method, then don’t take the heat when it explodes. Remember the last time you tried to convince your manager he was sniffing up the wrong trail? You feared it would lead to trouble, but he insisted, and then he stayed silent while the fire raged. I sure hope you call him on it, I always do, but in private–embarrassing HIM in public will only bring more problems.
9. Stop by to chat when a critical deadline is looming. And don’t take any hints, especially this one: “I have a critical deadline. Can I catch up with you later?”
10. (My personal favorite) Insist the audit report be created in 3 different formats AND each format be updated each time it’s reviewed/revised. While I understand that some audiences needs more information than others, and some need only summaries, while others need even greater details. But why create and update all 3 versions throughout the project, long before they’re needed? Wouldn’t it make more sense to prepare and update just the most detailed one, the one that has ALL the information the others contain? Then when the detailed report is final, create and review the other 2?
What other methods do you see managers and others use to menace professionals? Here’s your chance to rant! You don’t have to be an auditor to chime in–managers torment people of all professions :)
Please help me save the world by tweeting this post or printing it and leaving it anonymously on your manager’s desk. When you do that, don’t forget to report back what happened.