With COVID-19 forcing entire organizations to work remotely, auditors and compliance teams have run into new challenges that require them to re-engineer their approach towards work. As an audit leader, you may be grappling with issues such as:
- Conducting walkthroughs remotely
- Collecting evidence on time when your clients are swamped, distracted, or worse, sick themselves
- Keeping clients and team members engaged during a time when people are likely distracted, stressed or scared
It is normal to feel nervous about having to do everything from conducting audits to coaching team members virtually. But worry not, we’ve got some simple tips to help you, your team and your clients stay on track with audits and build rapport with one another in a distributed work environment.
Performing Audits Remotely
Tips on conducting a virtual walkthrough
- Use a reliable virtual conferencing tool
To conduct a virtual walkthrough successfully, you need to have reliable virtual meeting tools (e.g. Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype for Business, Join.Me, etc.). Although conducting a virtual walkthrough may feel strange if you’re new to it, there’s actually several benefits to the virtual way. For one, you can record the meeting and share the recording with your team members. You wouldn’t need to capture screenshots (evidence of control processes) during the meeting because the recording itself already contains the evidence you need. All that remains is to ensure the recording is tagged appropriately and stored securely.
How Hyperproof supports virtual walkthroughs: Hyperproof’s continuous compliance software was built to make remote audits as seamless as possible. It provides a single location for end-user organizations to manage all things compliance, and it comes with a shared workspace where auditors and their clients can collaborate to complete an audit.
Hyperproof has seamless integrations to virtual meeting technology. We’ve built out the integration with Zoom and will be adding more virtual meeting tools in the coming weeks. In Hyperproof, a control operator has the option to launch a Zoom meeting and invite participants directly into a specific compliance program (e.g. ISO 27001). The meeting recording is automatically stored as evidence for that program within Hyperproof.
- Keep track of all your requests in one place
The suggestion to keep track of all of your requests to your client in one place may sound obvious, but we’ll say it here because it’s that important. Not only should you keep track of your requests and client submitted evidence in one place, it is also helpful to have visibility into the individuals that are responsible for performing the control processes.
During these unprecedented times, it is particularly important to be cognizant that some control owners that you need to interview may be unavailable due to illness. To keep your evidence collection and testing processes on track, you’ll need to find out from your main point of contact who is responsible for providing evidence for each control process, so you can make timely adjustments to your testing plan.
Keep the lines of communication open with your client; ask them to keep you up-to-date on the availability of their team members.
Hyperproof supports this: Hyperproof helps auditors know exactly whom, within a client organization, they need to work with to get the evidence needed to appropriately test controls.
One of the core tenets of Hyperproof’s continuous compliance software is providing visibility into who needs to do what, and by when – which are important factors for maintaining operating effectiveness of controls. Hyperproof gives compliance managers the ability to assign controls to specific individuals, and supports continuous compliance by enabling due dates to be established for when evidence needs to be provided. Additionally, Hyperproof has innovative dashboards that enable oversight of these processes.
When a compliance team is ready to provide evidence to their auditor, they can invite their auditor to access the Audit space within their Hyperproof account by sending an email invitation. In the Audit space, the auditor will upload all of their client evidence requests, and keep tabs on progress. As an auditor with access to Hyperproof, you’ll be able to see progress on the evidence requests in real-time as your clients provide evidence.
In the case that someone hasn’t provided evidence for an audit, due to illness or other reasons, Hyperproof allows other people within the compliance team to step in and provide the requested evidence to the auditor.
Maintaining client relationships remotely
In professional services, face-to-face time with clients is invaluable. Even though you may not be able to visit clients in-person at this time, you can leverage technology to create virtual face-to-face time.
Now is a good time to schedule a virtual check in with your clients. When you do, try to keep conversations positive, talk about non-work related items, focus on how you deepen those relationships and lend support during a potentially difficult time. Ask your clients how you can make things smoother for them. Then, take that client feedback back to your team, and incorporate it.
Managing the audit team remotely
Managing a team virtually comes with its own set of challenges. For one, it becomes harder to coach team members, provide training and oversee their work when you can’t simply walk over to their desks. Second, without the ability to spontaneously get together for lunch or happy hour, you’ll have to be more intentional and plan remote team activities to keep team members feeling connected and engaged.
Consider ways to provide some structure for your team to do their best work remotely. For instance, you may institute a daily 10 or 15 minute virtual “stand up” (e.g. Zoom meeting) where team members talk about their priorities for the day, where they’re stuck and what pressing questions they may have. These daily “standup” meetings provide opportunities for team members to discuss where they need quick support, stay informed on client-side developments, and enables you to pivot in response to emerging challenges.
Additionally, make sure you have a central location for storing all important documents your team needs to access — such as: methodology, test plans, sample guidance — in order to stay on track.
For team building efforts, there are many options to keep team members feeling connected to one another during this time. Here are some team building activities for remote teams:
- Have a friendly virtual competition. Consider scheduling a few quick rounds of trivia games for team members over Slack (see the Slack Extension GameMonk for details). Here at Hyperproof, we also asked everyone to show up to our Friday all-hands (virtually) with a “quarantini” (a cocktail of their choice) in hand. Each person talked about their “quarantini” and management rewarded the individuals with the most creative drinks.
- Remote movie night. Everyone starts at the same time, the movie doesn’t stop. Then everyone gets together to talk about the movie afterwards.
- A peek into each other’s homes. Each team member takes a short video showing off their home and some of their favorite things. This activity allows team members to get to know each other on a more personal level and can lead to feelings of friendship.
- Set up virtual “coffee buddies” through Slack extension — Donut. Donut pairs up team members to talk with one another every 1-4 weeks. These virtual meetings can last anywhere from 15-30 minutes and the aim is to bond people on a one-on-one basis through non-work relations conversations.
- Skill Sharing. Your team has a lot of talented people, and many may want to learn skills from each other. Why not have people teach each other something they know? For instance, those willing to teach put together a 3-5 minute presentation on any topic they prefer.
Although it seems counterintuitive, remote work can actually improve your team dynamics because it requires that you be intentional about spending time together. In these challenging times, we are fortunate to have innovative technology that enables you to work remotely, seamlessly manage control operations, and enable teams to stay engaged, positive and productive.
To see how Hyperproof can help you deliver audits remotely, sign up for a personalized demo.