By: Sergio Tavares
While the concept of electronic workpapers is not an entirely new concept (in development for the past 10 years), it has been steadfastly increasing in its recent growth and assimilation into businesses, most especially in accounting and financial companies, and has proven to be an effective and cost efficient tool in every day processes.
For example, in 1999, ePace! Software announced the release of its new software package almost entirely based of off Microsoft Word and Excel programs, ePace! Engagement, in an effort to combine both engagement management and trial balance capabilities into one solution [accounting web].
According to [PR Newswire], the new program was “organized in a way that is familiar to accountants. It mirrors the physical workflow of their firm. Binders are organized in a file room by client, engagement and year with indexed workpapers, financial statements, audit programs, tax checklists and trial balance all in one place.” This program, which was acquired in 2001, is better known today as the Wolters Kluwer North America software company.
In the past few months, P&G Associates has been gradually changing the way we conduct our audits. We recently converted from physical work papers to electronic work papers making our audit process much more eco-friendly and proficient. As an employee of P&G Associates who worked with paper for some time, I have personally seen and experienced the benefits that this transition has brought to the firm. I’ve enjoyed not having to carry two bags full of files to and from the client and the paper clutter on my desk is finally under control.
There are many benefits to this new process of submitting electronically such as:
In an article by the American Institute of CPAs, going electronic is the “next frontier”, stating that “in terms of return on investment (ROI), using electronic workpapers is the most important aspect of being paperless. Electronic workpapers allow for greater productivity, efficiency, and collaboration.”
This change will eventually also benefit the firm employee by making the travel experience of the auditor much easier because by having all reports electronic; there will be less paper to carry. As a result of this change, there is a positive impact not only on the firm, but also on the client and the auditor as well.
In sum, the advent of electronic communication and electronic workpapers has provided auditors with the means to allevaiate certain pressures on firm resources. Electronically reviewing workpapers and transmitting review notes can ease schedule issues and reduce reviewer travel time, as it permits reviewers to review multiple jobs concurrently and from a remote location [Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory].
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