How to Help Your Clients Get a Clean Audit
“I love being audited!” said no one ever. In many companies, audit time produces a predictable cocktail of panic and dread. When you provide client advisory services as a firm, the pressure can be intense. An audit is as much an examination of your work and service as it is the client’s processes and procedures.
At Blue Fox, a virtual accounting and advisory firm, we primarily serve the nonprofit sector. Most nonprofits have an audit requirement built into their bylaws. Even if they don’t, in many states, an audit is required for nonprofits with revenue over a certain threshold. Clean audits are critical in the fundraising environment, too, so that adds a whole other layer of stress to the process. So we know the drill, and we try to help our clients shift their view of an audit from a necessary evil to a valuable management and marketing moment.
But without the proper tools and technology in place, an audit can be extremely tedious and costly. How many hours does an accounting team spend supporting an audit on average? 5? 8? 15?
Early on in our company’s journey, we embraced Bill.com primarily as an A/P platform. Yet I must admit I had no idea what a big difference Bill.com would make to our clients come audit season. The first year we used Bill.com, our average time spent on audit support went from 10 hours to 2. Remarkable, right?
“The first year we used Bill.com, our average time spent on audit support went from 10 hours to 2.”
There are 3 key features at Bill.com that help our clients get clean, fairly painless audits each year.
1. Digitized, paperless records
Gone are the days of hunting for source documents for auditors. This is probably the biggest time saver for us and our clients. Think of the traditional audit workflow...
- Auditor sends in document request list.
- Office staff hunts for all the items on the list. Sets aside for the audit site visit.
- Auditors review, and often ask for additional documentation for this or that.
- Staff goes back to the file cabinets to gather more information.
- Auditors take copies/scans for their files and workpaper purposes.
- Staff files documents back where they belong.
Ever stop to think of how inefficient this workflow really is? And in the days of COVID-19, audits would be pretty difficult (impossible?) if that intensely in-person, manual, paper-logged process was the only way. But Bill.com changes the game.
By retaining images of source documents and related correspondence, Bill.com is the digitized, paperless backup for payables and receivables that we’ve all been waiting for. Grant your auditor access to your client’s Bill.com account and they run down all the source documents on their own. Everybody wins!
2. Enforcement of internal controls
My second favorite audit-busting feature of Bill.com is the easy enforcement of internal controls that it provides when it comes to separation of duties.
Nonprofits typically struggle to maintain proper separation of duties – they are usually short-handed and reluctant (or unable) to invest in administrative or office staff. So quite often, when we come on board, the Treasurer/Audit Committee/Finance Committee is absolutely delighted to hear that all the office staff has to do is open the mail and send it to Bill.com and we’ll take it from there.
We set up each of our client accounts at Bill.com with the optimal user permissions and multi-approver workflows (if needed) so that no one person at the organization has too many duties. Bill.com’s various user types can be quite granular – from accounting clerk to administrator to payer and more. That makes auditors really happy, and more importantly, it actually does significantly reduce the risk of fraud to have such measures and permissions in place.
3. Audit trail feature
Finally, Bill.com keeps an impeccable digital audit trail on every transaction. In perpetuity, you can view the details on transaction entry, approvals, payments, and changes. You can see who did what when, and that’s exactly the sort of detail auditors look for to make sure that established internal controls and procedures are being followed. Here again, the auditors can view this trail at any time once they are logged in and BONUS: no extra work required by you!
These three features of Bill.com are invaluable to us and our clients throughout the year, but especially at audit time. Our clients more easily get clean audits, and save time and money, too.
In the nonprofit world, we advocate that each of our clients steward every dollar they raise as carefully as possible. If using Bill.com means that an audit takes half the time it used to, our nonprofit client saves money on the audit bill, on our bill, and ultimately on staff time as well. And when an organization serves critical needs in the community, what could be more important than leveraging dollars and time to the fullest?
Whether your clients are nonprofits or for profits, Bill.com provides the tools and technology you need to get a clean audit year after year. What are your favorite audit-friendly features of Bill.com?