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How to Conduct a Remote Audit

Most audits are conducted on-site, not because it’s practical or convenient but because it has become customary over the years. Since the dawn of accounting, in-person audits have become a facet of doing business that we begrudgingly accept. In fact, most companies conduct internal audits to be 100 percent certain that they are maintaining compliance with SOX, SOC 1 (Type 1 and Type 2), SEC Rule 17, and other external and internal compliance regulations.  Although it’s worked reasonably well, technology now permits businesses to conduct audits remotely, which means greater flexibility for business, reduced auditing costs, and greater peace of mind. But how do you conduct a remote audit? And how do you know if your business is prepared for remote accounting audits?

What Technology Do You Need to Conduct a Remote Audit?

For companies interested in conducting remote audits, it is important to recognize that technology is the key to unlock this useful capability. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems that combine Document Management, Mobile Content Management, and Workflow Automation are ideal for driving remote auditing capabilities. ECM facilitates the digitization of all enterprise documents, which leads to expanded options for dealing with documentation both in and out of the office. Here’s how it works:

  • Enterprise Content Management: a single, integrated platform that connects with your existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and provides the framework for the various technologies that make remote audits possible.
  • Document Management: technology that digitizes documentation and provides a secure, centralized repository from which all documents can be accessed, reviewed, and processed by approved users.
  • Mobile Content Management: technology that facilitates access to your organization’s digital repository by providing remote access to mobile devices. Mobile Content Management not only allows users in the field to process documents without returning to the office but also permits auditors to collect and review documents remotely for faster, less expensive audits.
  • Workflow Automation: advanced automation that leverages Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to streamline workflows and automate processes from start to finish. It also helps auditors find what they’re looking for more quickly and allows organizations to automate records retention using RPA-powered policies.

Are Remote Audits Right for Your Business?

ECM permits remote access, allowing approved users to source documentation from throughout your organization. It also allows businesses to create and control access by auditors using the same ECM system. In other words, you can provide temporary credentials to an auditor, allowing them to access the documents they require (and only those documents). This capability is ideal for SMEs and large enterprises that handle a large volume of documentation, such as invoices, sales orders, packing slips, and even onboarding forms.

The other benefit of using an ECM system to perform a remote audit is that it doesn’t limit your businesses to the types of audits it can perform. ECM is designed to be utilized across the enterprise in Accounting, Finance, Legal, Customer Service, Human Resources, and more. These departments often process thousands of documents per month, which creates a significant burden for your auditor if they are tasked with finding documents manually.

What Are the Benefits of Remote Auditing Technologies?

There are many benefits for businesses that conduct remote audits. First and foremost, it makes the process of undergoing an audit simple. Your company provides their auditing firm with an ECM user account with approved permissions that dictate what the auditor can access. Related transactional documentation is also readily available as long as your ECM system supports digital paper trails. Leading ECM systems operate as a “single source of truth” or SSOT. That means your auditor can find everything they need within a single, integrated system. Other benefits include:

  • Provides a central repository with robust search capabilities based on any recorded criteria (i.e., invoice #, vendor name, item #, date, logo, and more)
  • Supports centralized access from decentralized locations
  • Reduces audit fees
  • Accelerates audit completion
  • Captures all transactional documentation using automated Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, ensuring that no documents are ever lost, damaged, or destroyed
  • Organizes documentation contiguously.
  • Validates and updates information in real-times
  • Improves business intelligence with robust analytics capabilities
  • Tracks auditor activity and progress
  • Guides auditors using plain-text notifications
  • Generates reports that are useful for both your organization and the auditor
  • Allows your organization’s decision-makers to easily review audit results whether conducted internally or externally
  • Facilitates customizable, scalable dashboards that deliver convenient self-service analytics reporting for each audit
  • Conducts multiple audits simultaneously from disparate locations

What Happens After You Embrace Remote Auditing Technologies?

Once you start to conduct audits remotely, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of on-site meetings. These will continue to occur, although much less frequently, and these interactions should be streamlined due to the added organization and file access provided by your ECM system. Collaboration with auditors and your department heads will be accelerated for faster resolutions. The company-firm relationship will remain strong, and perhaps even improve thanks to the added efficiency of ECM.

It’s still important to meet face-to-face every now and then, but in an increasingly digital world, it’s not unrealistic to believe that these types of interactions are already being phased out in favor of meetings conducted over Zoom and other video conferencing platforms. Additionally, auditors are freed from long stints as a company’s on-site guest — something all parties admittedly appreciate. Your auditors will no longer need to travel, billable hours will be reduced, and you will gain greater control over the cost of audits. Your company will, ultimately, avoid audit projects exceeding projected timetables and budgets, resulting in mutual satisfaction in your fiscal relationships.

Needless to say, remote auditing is highly advantageous for all parties. ECM provides the platform to keep it convenient and cost-effective, allowing your organization to focus less on checks and balances and more on future growth.

To learn more about how remote audits can help your business save money, preserve time, and maintain compliance, contact IntelliChief today.

Regulatory Compliance Tips for Your Company Documentation

Regulatory compliance takes major effort — and that effort often spans an entire organization.

Everyone in your company, from your CEO to  Accounts Payable Director, IT Director, and every employee under their management, is responsible for doing their part to maintain compliance. Of course, we trust that our hard-working employees are satisfying their end of this unspoken contract, but how do we verify this?

Regulatory Compliance Is Easier for Companies That Go Paperless

When it comes to records, companies have to control who is able to view, edit, or delete them. They also need to keep a comprehensive paper trail of every single access point or revision. This allows companies to passively maintain a robust record of recordkeeping-related actions while implementing layers of failsafes to ensure that all documents are available as required by policy, regulation, and law.

The more documents that flow through an organization, the harder it is to account for the complete security of each and every record contained in your file.

One way to make this easier? Taking key business processes paperless.

When you’re able to manage your documents electronically, regulatory compliance and risk management becomes much easier because access control is a built-in feature. It’s one of the easiest, most hands-off risk mitigation strategies that you can adopt.

Compliance Tips for Keeping Up With Document Retention Regulations

SOX, HIPAA, SEC Rule 17…every industry is responsible for maintaining compliance with numerous document retention regulations, and as time passes, these regulations are only getting more comprehensive — and specific. There are riches to be made in the pursuit of businesses that fail to comply, which, inversely, means companies can save money by safeguarding their operations from noncompliance.

Follow these compliance tips to protect your business:

Examine Your Company Documentation

Go through the documents that you currently have stored, whether on-site in a filing cabinet or off-site through a professional service. Decide what you need to keep and what is old enough to be destroyed. Pay close attention to document volume and the types of documentation your organization is tasked with storing securely. You want to develop a profile of your company documentation that will help you create a highly practical retention strategy.

Develop a Retention Strategy

Think about the documents that are continuing to flow into your organization. You need to develop a strategy for collecting, categorizing, and protecting them. When your company documentation falls into the wrong hands, it opens the door for potential violations.

Do you have an effective strategy for dealing with documentation from Accounts Payable, Customer Service Human Resources, Sales/Order Processing, and other departments?

Whether your company deals with large volumes of contracts, invoices, or employment applications, it’s important to identify the proper retention policies that your company is responsible for satisfying.

Leverage Enterprise Content Management

If you currently use (or plan to use) an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, see if there are settings that will let you automate burn policies to destroy documents once they’re no longer needed. Not only will you no longer have to worry about deleting files manually but you will also benefit from less “digital clutter.” Another popular option made possible with an ECM is maintaining a back-up server to retain copies of deleted documents in a separate repository.

Map Out and Secure Your Recordkeeping Workflows

You’ve developed a retention strategy, now it’s time to apply it to the way you process documents.

Start by mapping out your workflows so that you can identify potential weaknesses, such as employees manually handling sensitive documents when they don’t need to. Furthermore, you should make certain that financial and transactional data is only sent to the people who absolutely need to see it.

Configure your workflows based on your specific business processes to ensure that your company documentation can only be managed by approved users. You can build additional security protocols into your workflows, too.

Integrate With Your Other Systems of Record

Do you want to experience best-in-class content management? Integrate your core systems of record (ERP, CRM, HCM, HRIS, etc.) with your ECM system to facilitate the flow of information throughout your organization. When connected, these systems can update your data automatically in real-time. At the same time, they can keep your business-critical data safe by implementing permission-based rules to ensure that company documentation is accessible to members across your organization.

Support Digital Audit Trails

Do you find yourself getting lost along the audit trail? If your policies are ever called into question, you may need to show detailed information about who has handled your company’s records. You need to be able to understand the who, what, when, where, and why of every piece of company documentation. An automated digital audit trail can help you maintain such a record without any additional work.

Get More Regulatory Compliance Tips From Our Experts

When it comes to regulatory compliance, it’s crucial to develop a plan before problems arise. Even a short delay can end up costing your organization thousands. Being proactive is better than losing hours (and reputation) to after-the-fact incident management.

If you’re ready to refine your internal policies, contact IntelliChief. We can help you implement a document security and lifecycle management plan that’s aligned with your industry’s unique regulations.

Why Your Company Should Consider Going Paperless

Going Paperless

Information is the heartbeat of an organization. Businesses need to manage and distribute information related to all of their departments’ business processes. This list can be long, as it typically includes Accounting, Customer Service, Human Resources, Legal, Operations, and more) and may need to be compliant with Sarbanes Oxley or HIPAA. If the circulation and management of this information slows down or becomes ineffective, progress gets stalled, and business concerns start to surface.

When a company is working under a tight budget in a demanding economic environment, every technology-related decision is predicated on its ability to generate an appreciable ROI. One major cost area in companies getting scrutinized is paper-based business systems. Traditional paper-based methods for creating and delivering documents are fraught with huge costs, chronic inefficiency, costly errors, and offer little flexibility. Some of these costs, which can be mitigated with Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Workflow Automation, include:

  • Paper and paper-related expenses
  • Storage
  • Labor
  • Capital expenses
  • Employee productivity
  • Business processes

Why Do Companies Still Rely on Paper?

Many companies keep old paper-based systems for two reasons:

  • They do not know how much they’re really spending
  • They fear negative ROI from implementing a new solution

Paper-intensive companies need to find alternatives to these methods to reduce paper usage and eliminate paper costs that decrease their bottom line.

Successful ECM Projects Start With a Review of Your Current Expenses

Converting a company from paper-based processes to digital processes can seem like it is going to be an overwhelming expense, but it doesn’t have to be.

Calculating an ROI financial analysis requires careful study of current physical costs (paper, toner, paper storage, postage, shipping, envelopes) and labor costs (retrieving, handling, and filing paper copies).

Forrester Research references the ROI of imaging, suggesting companies follow these steps before converting to a paperless process management system:

  • Create a formal needs assessment
  • Establish specific goals to be addressed
  • Know your costs
  • Evaluate solutions
  • Build a business case with a clear ROI.

When companies go through the exploratory process, they begin to discover the excessive costs related to paper and inefficient processes. They can now consider adopting a paperless process management strategy document to achieve long-term cost savings and better efficiency.

Why Going Paperless Is the Only Solution for Large Enterprises and SMEs

The Gartner Group recognizes the components of Enterprise Content Management as top technology priorities for businesses.

An ECM system makes it possible to lower the high costs of paper and paper-related products, reduce manual processing of documents, improve business processes, enable businesses to scale their operations, and improve general efficiency in their organization.

Cost reduction from eliminating paper and storage for documents, a cut-back in operating expenses (daily time savings, eliminated rework, time lost looking for misplaced documents) are some of the benefits businesses achieve immediately.

A new paperless system can be added in stages, with a series of projects that do not require converting all paper documents and business processes at the same time. New processes can be added over time as a business grows.

Are you interested in learning more about adopting ECM and Automation for your business? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our award-winning, time-tested solutions that have helped hundreds of customers work smarter, not harder.

What to Look for in an ECM Provider

Understanding the costs and return on investment involved in an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution is important before deciding on a software vendor. It’s important to consider the following factors when choosing an ECM provider:

Integrates With the Existing ERP System

Finding an ECM system that is engineered to unite with your existing ERP system is a huge benefit. When talking to ECM vendors, you should insist on finding a seamless integration that will allow you to achieve your goals.

Once a system is put into place, ECM needs to be a seamless fit, ensuring that current systems function as effectively as they did before installation. Having documents stored in a centralized repository results in the merging of business processes and computer applications so information is stored in a high-quality digital format.

Increases Productivity of Employees

When choosing an ECM system, it’s important to assess how much employees will be freed from unnecessary work to give them the needed time to be productive in other areas. Imagine if your workers didn’t have to spend upwards of 90% of their time manually handling paper documents and keying in data. What other tasks could they work on to benefit your organization? The possibilities are truly endless.

Supports Compliance With HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley

Companies need to take into account external government regulations and internal security policies as a critical part of doing business in their marketplace in order for documentation to be accessed in response to compliance audits and requests.

Health care providers have to consider how to create high levels of security for HIPAA and place physical safeguards (such as access to certain users) and/or technical safeguards (password-protected files) in place.

For Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, ECM systems need to store company information in a centralized location. Find a solution where documents are easily tracked through the entire process lifecycle for responses to regulatory audits.

Offers Browser-Based Interface

An ECM system should give employees the ability to access the system from any location using a secure browser interface. This will increase your ability to do business remotely by a significant margin without the need for a dysfunctional, expensive mobile app. If you want unrestricted mobile content management features, a browser-based interface is the most flexible, secure, and cost-effective option.

Provides Solid Experience and Market Knowledge

It’s crucial to work with a company that understands the business goals and technology needs. ECM solutions work well when the vendor has worked with many types of organizations. An ECM vendor who has a solid track record, significant experience, and who shares their large knowledge base ensures success.

Gives In-Depth Technical Support

Look for a company that offers extensive support and will partner to provide fast and easy solutions to problems. They should offer traditional support offerings as well as remote services, to meet all needs. They should offer a quick resolution of any issues.

Ready to find out whether Enterprise Content Management is right for your business? Contact IntelliChief to learn more about how we help businesses justify their projects with real-world ROI examples using actual business data.