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Successful audits are those in which the management and staff of the area audited stay involved with the audit process and are aware of the phases that are common to most audits. Furthermore, OIA staff strive to keep the client informed of issues, and other points of possible improvement on an ongoing basis. Ongoing communication is critical to ensuring that issues are correctly identified and described. Listed below are common audit phases.
Activities to audit are selected to optimize audit coverage of high risk subjects and areas of management concern. Attempts are made to recognize and avoid duplication of effort by external auditors.
Preliminary Review and Planning
The audit team first gathers information about the activity or process to be audited through procedures manuals, reviews of relevant files, records and governance. We also survey executive management before we identify the fieldwork objectives. This phase is concluded with the drafting of an audit program.
The management of the area to be audited and the vice president with oversight, receives an announcement letter (engagement letter) which summarizes the scope and objectives of the audit and the auditor(s) assigned to the project. This letter signals the starting of the fieldwork phase of the audit.
This is a meeting held with audit team and unit staff and management for introductions and discussion and clarification of issues such as working space for the auditors, the time period for the fieldwork and other issues that the unit staff and audit team need to address.
At this phase the auditor concentrates on identifying elements of internal control and testing transactions. Procedures such as review of unit records and informal discussions and interviews with unit staff are the primary sources of information for the auditors. Therefore, it is important for the auditor to obtain easy access to unit records and staff. The auditor attempts to keep unit management informed to provide a clear and concise understanding of issues noted. OIA philosophy is to minimize operational disruption throughout the audit while meeting productivity and time deadlines for the assignment.
Preliminary Exit Conference
This conference occurs near the end of the fieldwork. Ideally, both unit management and the audit team, together with relevant staff, attend the meeting and discuss informally and in detail the concerns and issues identified by the audit team. Collectively, they formulate action to remedy any concerns and issues. This is also a good time to clarify misunderstandings, if any, and evaluate corrective action already taken by the unit.
Draft Audit Report for Discussion
This draft generally reflects the reporting of findings and planned corrective action after the audit team and audit management collectively evaluate the significance of each finding. The draft report becomes the document that is presented to upper management for discussion at the exit conference.
Formal Exit Conference
This is a meeting to present the audit findings and jointly formulated action plans to upper management. At this time, concerns or questions raised by upper management are addressed by the unit management as well as the audit team.
Final Audit Report
This is the final product of the audit where observations, findings and comments are presented together with management’s plan for corrective action. The audit reports are public record although their distribution is limited to select university administrators and officials.
The audit process ends with the issuance of the final audit report. The next phase is Audit Follow-Up, which is described in further detail in the link below: