Ah, audits – the word alone can make even the most seasoned professionals break into a cold sweat. But there’s no need to panic. With a little preparation and the right tools, you shouldn’t have any problem sailing through an audit smoothly… and that’s where we come in!
This blog will serve as your “how-to” guide to taking on any audit and making it through with flying colors. So, let’s get started!
1. Stay Organized
First things first, you gotta be organized. It’s literally the thing a successful audit is built on.
Start by creating a comprehensive list of all the documents and records the auditors may request based on what they will be taking a look at. This list could cover anything and everything from your admin plan to financial statements to compliance documents. Ensure each file is complete prior to giving it to the auditor. Keep everything neatly organized for easy access.
The best way to do this is to have policies in place to ensure your agency’s records are being properly maintained and organized throughout the year. Going paperless is a fantastic way to stay organized!
A great example of this is requiring each team member to leave detailed notes each time they do any kind of work on any file. That way, the next person to pull that file has an immaculate record of each time that file has been touched.
2. Know Your Agency
Auditors may have questions – lots of them. So, make sure you know your business inside out. Designate a few experts to be available to answer questions and provide information as needed. Make sure each expert not only understands the technical stuff – your financial statements and key processes and procedures – but choose your best people-people. Those who are comfortable talking to and interacting with strangers. That confidence and ability to provide solid information will give off a professional vibe, even if you’re sweating the outcome a little.
3. Train Your Team
Prepare your team for the audit by providing them with a basic understanding of the process. Make sure everyone knows when it’s happening and break down the dos and don’ts. Emphasize the importance of honesty and consistency in their responses if they are approached. A well-prepared team will not only enhance your company’s professional image but also help the audit go smoothly.
It’s on you to make sure your team is trained and ready, so aim high and prioritize training for excellence in every area.
4. Expect the Unexpected
Auditors may throw a few curve balls... Shocking, we know, but this is simply their way of ensuring accuracy and consistency. If you don’t know the answer to a question or what to do, it’s okay to say so. But make a commitment to find the information promptly. This is where being well-trained and organized really pays off. A well-trained and organized team won’t need to scramble in the moment. Professionalism doesn’t mean you have all the answers but it’s about knowing how to find the answers and being confident in your expertise and ability to provide a solution.
5. Keep Your Documentation Accessible
Your documentation should be clear, concise, and transparent. It should be easy to access and decipher. Avoid using agency-specific slang, jargon, and unnecessarily technical terms that might cause delays in the auditor’s ability to complete their tasks.
Also, make sure all files you submit to the auditors are complete and ready for processing. One great way to do this is to create a checklist to go with each file in which you can have a visual representation of everything that should be included. Then when it’s time to forward the files to the auditors, you will know each file has been confirmed to be complete.
Paying attention to these details will help to make the process much quicker and way less painful for your team.
6. Don’t Procrastinate
Don’t wait until the last minute to start your audit preparations. Give yourself plenty of time to review documents, gather information, and address any issues that may arise ahead of time. This will help you stay calm, cool, and collected when auditors arrive. Keep in mind this is likely to take much longer than you think it will, especially since your staff has all of their regular work to attend to as well. But, if you are doing step #1, it won’t be nearly as bad as it would be otherwise.
Don’t wait for an audit to get your agency in order. This approach is not going to go well, and it will create so much unnecessary stress on you and your teams.
7. Embrace Technology
This is the digital age and technology can be your best friend. Invest in auditing software, like AMAzing QC, that will streamline your processes and will help you get ahead of any potential issues. A good one will make it a thousand times easier to generate accurate reports and access critical information, not just during an audit but anytime throughout the year.
Take a look at our blog on how to infuse tech into your agency to help you jumpstart your journey to being tech-savvy!
8. Maintain a Friendly but Professional Attitude
It’s crucial to maintain a friendly attitude and helpful demeanor while interacting with auditors. Make them feel comfortable and welcome. A warm smile and a cup of coffee can go a long way in making the process more pleasant. However, always remember that auditors are there to do a job, so maintain a professional demeanor at all times.
While no one actually wants to have to go through an audit, preparing for one doesn’t have to be a stressful event that forces your entire agency to pause. By using all the tools we have given you in this guide, you can sail through the process with confidence.
Remember, audits are a part of the PHA life, and with the right preparation, you’ll be ready to handle them with ease every time. So, take a deep breath and face that audit with your head high and a smile. You’ve got this!