Auditing is a process companies use to review their operations, financial information and compliance with government regulations or other guidelines. Many companies use public accounting firms of independent professional accountants for this process. Audit procedures outline how individuals will conduct an audit and compare a company’s information to national accounting standards or other rules. Designing audit procedures typically includes universal principles or procedures specific to a company’s operations and individual job functions or tasks.
Review national accounting and auditing standards. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS) are the most authoritative accounting and auditing standards in the U.S. Accountants should review these standards to design auditing procedures that accurately reflect these concepts.
Create a sampling process. Audits do not test every transaction during the review process. Accountants must create a statistical or non-statistical system to select a random sample of the company’s information. This procedure can be computer generated or a manual random selection process.
Develop individual fieldwork techniques. Accountants will complete most of their work during the fieldwork stage. These procedures use a mix of observations, interviews and recalculations. Observing and interviewing procedures are better when physical items are under review, while recalculating information is common when accountants must test the accuracy and validity of information.
Evaluate internal controls. Publicly held companies must use internal controls to safeguard their financial information. Audit procedures should include an interview of company management to assess their knowledge of the controls, observe the controls if possible and test information to ensure all signatures or authorization exists on documents.
Audit procedures can change over time. Professional accountants should consider taking current seminars or courses to learn about accounting issues and how to create audit procedures.
Failing to develop strong audit procedures can allow inaccurate information to remain in a company’s accounting information. This can create dangerous legal situations for both auditors and their clients.