|Stephen Barrett, CPA.CITP|
Schultheis & Panettieri, a Long Island, NY, accounting firm, has a niche audit practice that caters to multi-employer benefit plans. The firm conducts approximately 170 audits a year, but due to the specialized nature of their business, they have had to create their own audit methodology since most audit content is written for firms handling audits of single employer plans.
For the partners and staff at Schultheis & Panettieri, developing custom audit content evolved out of necessity, but by adapting the content to suit the demands of their line of work, the firm has been able to increase efficiency and capitalize on the experience gained by partners and staff by building certain procedures into their audit process.
In addition to gaining efficiency by customizing audit content, a firm like Schultheis & Panettieri can better manage risk since they will have tighter controls over the procedures being performed. Mayer Hoffman McCann, P.C. (MHM), headquartered in Kansas City, has discovered that taking a more proactive approach by customizing and standardizing the preparation and execution of the firm's audit procedures, they are remedying the firm’s challenges in managing the planning and risk assessment process.
As a result, the firm has reduced the number of planning practice aids used as well as the number of questions on those practice aids. MHM has also streamlined their audit work in low risk areas with this more standardized approach.
Both MHM and Schultheis & Panettieri have turned to amelio® to assist with the audit management process. amelio® -- which derives its name from “ameliorate” because its purpose is to improve the maintenance of audit methodology -- enables firms to create logic-driven, adaptive forms that will adjust depending on how the auditor answers individual questions.
amelio® helps firms significantly streamline their audit process by allowing the firm to create templates for the audit content and create engagements based on those templates. Those templates consist of questions that will disappear or appear depending on how other questions are answered (such as a client’s entity type, industry, or the type of service being performed). For example, an engagement acceptance form can be short or lengthy, depending on how questions are answered. Before amelio®, Schultheis & Panettieri’s auditors had to read and answer all 50+ questions on an acceptance form, but now they no longer have to since irrelevant questions “disappear.”
According to Carol Westfall, Managing Partner at Schultheis & Panettieri, “Valuable audit time is wasted when 90% of the time we know something isn't relevant, such as Property, Plant and Equipment. amelio® will allow us to remove unnecessary items from the beginning.”
Using this technology, firms can essentially automate processes that used to be manual. This is also exhibited by amelio’s® centralized template management, which makes it easy for firms to propogate changes made to templates to engagements that are currently in process. Built-in version control will help auditors know if updates are available and will let reviewers know if the engagement is up to date with the latest firm standards. As changes are made to templates, Quality Control can require specific updates to be applied by auditors or opt to allow auditors to use their professional discretion in determining which updates to accept into their live engagement(s).
Beyond the efficiency and risk management gains, amelio® has intangible benefits. Gerald Moench, Managing Director at CBIZ MHM, notes, “amelio® makes us more efficient and therefore more competitive in the marketplace. In addition, we believe it could make us more competitive in recruiting talent. Overall, we hope it elevates how we are perceived, as combining our proprietary methodology with an advanced technological product such as amelio® allows us to elevate our game.”
Learn more about the tremendous benefits your firm can gain by customizing the audit management process. Join us on Wednesday, July 28th at 2pm EST to learn more about the future of audit methodology management, where customizing procedures, updating live engagements, sophisticated review and status tools, and more are eliminating inefficiencies and allowing firms to work smarter and faster.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/260009393