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When I started the interim audit of the Senedd Commission remotely in March after returning from college, I never thought I’d be completing the final audit in May remotely too! It was certainly a strange reintroduction to audit work after two and a half months of study, but I had my second screen and desk chair set up at my dining table and I was good to go.
During the audit, we had daily team catch-ups to discuss progress and any problems we were facing (as well as general chit-chat about how we’re feeling and a marvel at how nice the weather was!). We also had twice weekly catch-ups with the client, a good opportunity for us to give each other updates, as well as a ‘heads-up’ on likely queries coming their way. So while we were all ‘remote’, we still felt in touch with everyone.
We also had access to some invaluable tools which helped us to work remotely. Firstly, the Commission had set up a shared-access Sharepoint folder for easy access to working papers, and to avoid us being drowned in e-mails. There were a few issues with access at first which needed to be cleared up with the help of IT – but once sorted it was a very easy way to obtain and edit shared documents with the client, using our audit deliverables document to keep track of anything that might be missing or delayed.
We also used the share-screen function on Skype during meetings, allowing Commission staff to talk us through working papers and display multiple documents – just like being in the office (almost!). I also felt comfortable enough to have my camera on during the calls, which made it feel more like a face-to-face meeting.
It was definitely a challenge to complete an audit remotely – it took longer to resolve minor issues as we couldn’t just pop into the next room and have a quick chat. As a trainee I’m also often asking questions to the audit team, which isn’t as easy when you’re not in the same room. It was also difficult to obtain certain evidence which was held in hard copy in Commission offices – this meant we had to wait for Commission staff to arrange to safely visit their offices to collect it (and we were grateful to the volunteers who did this). As a result, it could certainly be stressful at times.
However, I knew I could call the Audit Lead at any time, and I felt very supported throughout the whole audit with regular personal contact with the team. Despite the unusual circumstances, the audit went very smoothly. As with any financial audit, it is a joy to see Insight flood with green and blue bars, but somehow this joy was amplified this year! We even managed to complete it within our original deadline, which is a testament to the hard work of the audit team but also client staff. Let’s hope that one day soon we can thank them in person!
About the Author
Jayana Finlay is a Graduate Trainee at Audit Wales, and has just completed her second year with us. During her time here she has worked on Local Government, Central Government and NHS Body audits. Prior to joining Audit Wales she completed a Masters degree in Mathematics at the University of Bristol.