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How Do I Develop an Audit Program?

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  • Written By: D. Nelson
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2016
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To develop an audit program, it can be helpful first to access audit software that provides you with template documents and calculation functions that can save time and improve the accuracy of an audit. In many cases, professionals find that they need to customize template documents or spreadsheets provided by software. Some of the most important facets of an audit program include departmental or operational goals, risk management analysis, and ideas or strategies for improvement. This document should also include notation regarding when an audit was completed, who performed the audit, and who developed strategies for optimization.

A primary goal of an audit program is to provide a guideline for financial accountants who perform audits and to document all actions and calculations made during auditing processes. Internal audits are those that serve the needs of managers and financial strategists who aim to improve an organization's profitability and perform risk management. Audit programs for internal operations should be based on needs dictated at the executive level by financial managers and officers.

Regulatory agencies also perform audits. These processes ensure that organizations properly report their earnings, pay necessary taxes, and adhere to other regulations. In these cases, an audit program should help an auditor to determine if an organization's financial practices are in compliance.

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Most professionals who have to develop audit programs do so to perform internal audits. While there are some elements that are present in most programs, styles can vary from organization to organization. If this is your first time developing an audit program, it can be a good idea to consult a financial manager. He or she can offer valuable advice regarding preferred formats and prioritization of information.

A typical audit program might be in the form of a spreadsheet in which columns run vertically and horizontally across a page. In the left hand column, you may want to list the steps of an auditing process in chronological order. The column directly to the right of this first column might contain references to paperwork that support each corresponding action.

Following references to paperwork, you can create a column the describes conclusions and calculations reached at each step. Knowing how much detail to include in this part of an audit program can be difficult. Many financial managers prefer certain methods of documentation over others. The only way to excel at balancing summary conclusions with detailed explanations in an audit report may be to learn from experience in a certain organization. For this reason, you may have to complete several audit reports before you finally master the process.

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