COVID-19 simultaneously disrupted the accounting cycle for companies and underscored the ways in which technology and data enhance the resiliency of the profession. At EY-US, audit teams across the firm were able to leverage technology to not only adapt to working virtually, but to embrace a data-first approach and sustain our focus on executing high quality audits.
Four key lessons from COVID-19 are helping us continue to drive improvements in audit quality:
A global audit platform streamlines project management and communications
Auditing the first “remote close” was more than a communications challenge. Audit teams also needed the agility to adjust their audit approach in response to a drastically altered business landscape, while continuing to identify risks and meet key deadlines and filing dates. With EY Canvas, our global audit platform, audit professionals are connected to each other and trained to work with the same technology and methodology globally. Having one global platform made the transition to virtual working seamless, since the project management approach was embedded in our technology.
Private cloud technology offers layers of protection
The COVID-19 shutdown brought concerns over how audit teams would safeguard financial information while working remotely. Our EY Canvas Client Portal allowed companies to upload information directly to EY Canvas which is housed on a virtual private network, which brings security, stability and capability to the audit through advanced cloud technology throughout the audit cycle.
Data analytics help audit teams—and audit clients—focus on key issues raised by the pandemic
EY’s remote data capture processes and our ability to capture full data populations using our Helix suite of analyzers proved invaluable. The use of these tools allowed our teams to enhance their risk assessment processes to look for areas of potential risks. For example, as many companies took action to optimize their workforces, analytics flagged a potential risk at one client by identifying anomalies, including unusually high levels of overtime. These technologies enable EY teams to identify potential risks with greater confidence and reveal anomalies and trends in clients’ financial data.
A data-first approach is essential to building trust and transparency
We’re still absorbing the pandemic’s lessons and adapting them to our 2020 audit plans. But one thing is certain: a data-first approach helped deliver an audit strategy that is responsive to the ever-changing risk profile of our clients, particularly in a virtual workplace. Data-driven procedures bring insights to leaders that enable them to be proactive in investigating issues and addressing risks. That added transparency is the foundation for high-quality, trusted financial reporting.