Back in January, our Smart Engagement Product Manager, Matt Swann and Audit Product Manager, Jonathan Millar held a webinar alongside 2020 Innovation entitled ‘Benefits of using cloud for auditing’. Here, we take a look back at what was discuss and look at the key points addressed throughout the webinar.
How did we get here?
In the last 20 years, we’ve witnessed a positive shift towards paper-less audit solutions, and CaseWare has been at the forefront of that movement. Users have discovered a number of benefits from such software including time savings incurred by designing and retaining tests from each year, reviewing and syncing with Accounts Production software and the savings on the storage space which any paper files would require.
We saw early paper-less solutions require an integration with a hard-wired hub, creating a local network for colleagues to access the same file. Check-in & check-out technology was also installed within the software to ensure only the correct version was being used and worked on.
We’ve seen a significant and refined growth in technology over the past decade, with the creation of more hybrid options which straddle both the desktop and cloud platforms, and feature synchronization linking the parent and child versions to ensure they’re fully integrated.
However, there have beena few drawbacks along the way with these technologies. Initially, there is the need to install the software, then, as many files require large amounts of memory there are server storage requirements to consider.
We must also mention the issue with the yearly update process. We’ve seen a considerable improvement over the last couple of years, and unquestionably faster than rolling forward a manual file, we are still looking at a time cost and the skill involved when ensuring next year’s documents are up to date with latest features running.
There is no denying that desktop and hybrid solutions are powerful tools, however, the cloud offers a more agile platform, with the ability to speed through which changes to be put through and technical updates can be released with ease to the end user, in the fraction of the time.
Benefits and tools associated with the cloud
- Hosting and Installation
With cloud technology, the requirement to hold your own data is removed, as the software enables users to store data online, thus offering a seamless update process.
Desktop systems on the other hand require a firm’s IT department to update and run tests to ensure there are no effects on any other software.
‘On premise’ software would also be required to be installed or pushed out into each individual machine.
With cloud technology information is always kept up to date, with no installation required. All approved users can retrieve the most up to date documents through a URL accessed through a web browser, omitting the need for firms to have a server retaining information.
With automatic updates, everyone is always running their software on the same version of the product, ensuring maximum compliance.
- Client Collaboration
Collaboration is promoted both across the practice and their clients due to the cloud’s virtual platform.
There are add-on tools available to further increase collaboration between firms and their clients. Tools such as ‘prepared-by-client’, offer users the opportunity to directly request information from clients and place any received documents and data straight into the audit file.
This advantage is one that has been particularly valuable during the pandemic, helping firms overcome the challenges of not getting out to the clients, and potentially changing auditor’s future working practices.
By enabling access to data in real-time, users can work on a file simultaneously, confident in the knowledge that they will not create conflicts, or be in a ‘read-only’ file. Senior members can also review work when required in real-time.
- Data Sharing
In order to add value for clients and add extra insight for both their performance and overall business model, data sharing is an essential piece of the puzzle.
We’re seeing more accounting solutions adopting cloud technology. Where these are used, ‘Cloud-to-Cloud’ imports see the whole data sets and transaction lists imported directly into the Cloud Audit products.
The Cloud allows API’s (application programming interface) to be written in easily, enabling a number of different cloud based systems to interact with one another. For instance, data going into one central location from various software for Audit and Practice Management could then be utilized by different applications. Data stored in this way, can be pulled together to enhance reporting and benchmarking between clients.
We must mention data analytics is also available as an add-on tool. Not a new concept, but has become much larger and more widespread in recent years. In the past, to obtain and make use of data was always seen as a labour intensive task. Today, with the Cloud, users have found that it is far easier to understand where the data originates from and what other users are trying to obtain from it.
From this, auditors have increased transparency in the process, and can feel comfortable understanding the results and confident in their conclusions based on the data.
Data visualisation is another tool to allow users to see their data in a much clearer and orderly format. With cloud’s client data option, data is easier to read for not only for analytical purposes but when the data is presented to the client, giving them a greater service from their financial advisors.
We at CaseWare are committed to constantly developing our software range to ensure we are providing customers with the latest, most up to date solutions. Please visit CaseWare.co.uk or speak to your Account Manager if you would like any further information.