Implications and Considerations in Post Pandemic Auditing
To say that the pandemic has been challenging for the business community globally would be an understatement. Ever since the cases were first reported from Wuhan, China, nobody could even assume how devastating it would get for the economies globally. This was before the virus was declared a pandemic, but as soon as the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it as such, people finally started taking notice of how severe this could be, as was the case for many countries where cases were already high.
Most businesses stopped operations for a while and then proceeded to work from home, meaning, offices were closed and employees worked remotely and still do in many countries. Although businesses were not the only ones! Schools, gyms and many other places of social gatherings closed down. Wherever social distancing could be implemented, government officials made sure to do so.
But why businesses halting makes for a worse situation is because it creates a chain effect upon the economy and a common man’s wage, that turns into a much more devastating situation. While in the middle of a health and humanitarian crisis, one cannot simply afford to suffer economically too. This makes it much more difficult to bounce back and put in measures to make sure the virus is contained, people are safe, secure and have the means to provide food and shelter for themselves while isolating.
Auditing and reporting in management of companies became really difficult to conduct and carry out smoothly, which we discussed in detail in the previous blog too. A big driver of which was the uncertainty of what might happen, how things might unravel, and not knowing how things might unfold in the near as well as distant future.
How might auditors carry out their activities of assessment, questioning, observing, when the employees themselves are not working from office, especially in case of outsourcing in auditing. This on top of the fact that the mere hint of unprecedented times does not allow an auditor to make smart guesses based on analysis, because in this case, a situation that has not occurred for considerable decades in the past, has suddenly sprung upon you without any fair warnings.
Now whether its internal audit of restaurant or internal audit of stores, making sure of internal controls assurance gets really difficult, when most internal functions, except for the production and manufacturing companies, is done remotely. Enterprise risk management internal audit is something that, if gets done now at this point in time, cannot be completely relied upon, if we are being practical and making sure awareness of the unprecedented situation is not lost in the recovery procedure.
While things have started to return to “the new normal” with many offices opening and following strict policies to prevent COVID spread. While others still continuing to work remotely, all that auditors and audit firms can do is follow standard procedure as best as they can while working mostly online.