Technology is bringing immense changes to the auditing profession which are predominantly being driven by automation and cloud.
CaseWare Africa business leader Theuns Holtshousen, says it is predicted that robotics and artificial intelligence will replace up to 5% of all jobs globally by 2020. "Even though we think that the African continent will be lagging a few years behind the developed world, we have to acknowledge that technology is already impacting nearly all areas of our lives in one or another way. When it comes to accountants and auditors, technology offers a platform on which small and medium practices can compete on the same level as their network firm counterparts.
CaseWare's Working Papers and add on modules delivers these capabilities.
"CaseWare's solutions provides more growth opportunities than ever before for financial professionals of any size firm. It not only automates, but ultimately reduces complexities, creating a simple, transparent process, one that allows financial professionals to spend less time compiling, and more time interpreting information," says Holtshousen.
He adds that some financial professionals develop their own solutions. "These home-grown solutions are difficult to keep updated in line with legislative changes, while managing the change in formulas with multiple contributors making it challenging to deliver a set of financial statements on time. It makes more sense to tap into the benefits of existing global solutions that can be localised, for: small, medium and large practices; medium to large corporate organisations, and even public entities across the continent."
Ultimately, financial professionals want to save time and increase profitability. Automation offers just that. "It provides new ways of working that boosts the performance of the firm, business or public entity and drives prosperity through efficient and compliant reporting and auditing tools."
According to Holtshousen, businesses often look at automating their manual processes by replicating them digitally. "There is no true value in doing this. It's tantamount to digitising a broken process, better to re-engineer it whilst investing in automation."
"Drafting solutions in the market today should facilitate the importation of trial balance from any accounting system out there, or even from Excel. Once the trial balance has been allocated to compliance reporting categories, via a pre-defined set of accounts, CaseWare can instantaneously produce a set of financial statements—something that used to take days, even weeks. Should there be a requirement for consolidation between multiple company data into a single set of financial statements, CaseWare allows for hierarchy set-ups that can produce consolidation structures with true aggregation and elimination capabilities." He adds this is all available at the click of a button.
"These financial statements become the starting point of informed decisions in business today and directly impact the business in the future. Whereas an audit report proves the health of the organization for investors, institutes recognition for the organisation's efforts and promotes market trust. Once submitted to the auditors, the electronic file will live in that part of the ecosystem, allowing them to apply an automated audit methodology that facilitates collaboration from anywhere, at any time, through the power of the cloud.
"Cloud technology is a model that is driving behaviour globally. The increasing trend in online shopping is one of many examples. The concerns around cloud security have been addressed by a broad set of policies, technologies, and controls deployed to protect data, applications, and the associated infrastructure of cloud computing."
Holtshousen says that by using the cloud companies can collaborate and store data in a secure environment, thus significantly reducing risk. "Technology suppliers normally offer hosting as part of the cloud solution. This means no more shared folders, local server costs and multiple versions of one file – just one central data repository with version control in a secure cloud environment which is access-controlled."
"These changes are driving a significant shift in the roles of accountants and auditors. This shift may even accelerate as more businesses adopt the cloud. The beauty about cloud computing is that ever-evolving organizations are supported by developing tools, as updates are pushed out as and when they happen, giving end users access to new features and functionality almost immediately," he concludes.