A new way to Audit. By Liz Stephens

Liz Stephens, General Manager of Finance at Certus Solutions shares how their business adjusted to working in lockdowns.

I was recently asked what my finance department is doing differently, eighteen months on from our first lockdown brought about by COVID-19 reaching the shores of New Zealand.  Obviously, there was the introduction of virtual Friday drinks, quizzes, and competitions but what else?

Being a multinational company with offices spread across New Zealand and Australia, here at Certus Solutions we were already well set up for working remotely. Having moved to Office 365 some time ago, thanks to our forward-thinking IT Manager, the shift to making our homes our offices was an easy one and our customers were not impacted at all.

Our systems are in the Cloud and our files kept in a shared location so members of the finance team across five cities could continue to access all they needed.  We did identify the odd supplier who still mailed invoices and statements, nothing that a quick phone call and redirection to the Accounts email address couldn’t fix.

Like many New Zealand companies, we then headed into the annual audit but remotely which was a first for both us and our auditor.  As the customer our productivity wasn’t adversely impacted by that junior auditor appearing at our desk with one question only to reappear to clarify our answer after relaying our responses to their manager moments later.  But conversely the emails quadrupled.  But we all persevered and with an audit team who knew our business well we got the audit completed and in record time.

Twelve months on and our auditors added us to their Auditing and Accounting AI software solution, had we gone into another lockdown we were prepared.  As it transpired the whole audit was conducted under level one where the audit team were present at our office. Nonetheless we appreciated the AI solution.  Information was logged onto the platform and we could see it progress through to completion.  The audit went even smoother than before thanks to the technology.

So, what are we doing different?  Officially now a paperless finance department as are our auditors. And we mix our time working from home and in the office (when we can!).  One thing the pandemic has done for our team, is that we appreciate each other even more when we are in the office and can pop out for coffee or lunch together.

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