This January, PwC revealed it had used drones for the first time in an audit, with “groundbreaking” results.
But was this really a benefit to the client and an efficient use of resources, or was it just a PR gimmick?
Of course, drones and other emerging technologies have the potential to save time, and it certainly looks like they’ll have a role to play in the future of audit.
But this kind of approach isn’t applicable to every business, and on its own it’s not enough to guarantee a better outcome for the client.
It won’t do anything to change the wider problems in the audit industry, or the issue of quality, with the latest ICAEW report showing that more than a quarter of audits in 2018 were not satisfactory.
Solving these problems isn’t a case of making surface-level changes to the way audits are conducted. It requires rethinking the process, and placing the audited business – not the auditor – at the centre of it.
Most importantly, auditors need to take an interest in their client’s business and understand how it works. Only then does it make sense to suggest ways to improve the efficiency of the audit and make it easier for the client.
For some businesses, drones could be an unnecessary and invasive measure. In the case of one of my clients, whose products were stored in a warehouse at below freezing temperatures, they simply wouldn’t be practical – most drones can’t function properly below 0°C.
The video below explains how we are working together to solve this dilemma:
In the end, video conferencing via FaceTime was the solution we, jointly, opted for.
It saves us both a considerable amount of time and effort that would otherwise have been spent travelling. It is quicker and cheaper for my client, without at any point compromising the audit’s quality.
In other cases, cloud-based file sharing might be the answer.
It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking. It’s just about taking the time to find out what will genuinely provide value to the client.