The Disadvantages of Computer-Assisted Audit Techniques

by Michelle Hickman - Updated September 26, 2017
Auditors see disadvantages when using computer-assisted audit techniques.

With the technological age and the advancement of computers in the business profession, the advancement of auditing techniques to evaluate programs and transactions have also gone to an electronic format. Computer-assisted audit techniques, or CAATs, allow auditors to review data from computer applications. Yet many auditors refrain from using CAATs based on compatibility with the company's computer systems.

Audit Software

When an auditor uses CAATs for auditing software, this involves reading the client's data files. By using this procedure, the auditor locates the information necessary to perform different auditing tasks. Yet the auditor runs into disadvantages by needing the necessary training skills to run the complicated auditing programs. This technique raises costs to auditors who must ensure programs are adaptable from computer to computer.

Database Analyzers

The auditor uses database analyzers to examine software rights the business has to use different applications. The auditor reviews application access for users to work with the information in the database. Unfortunately, CAATs have limited applicability to auditing these different database management systems. The auditor also must have the necessary skills to set up and understand the auditing results.

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Embedded Program Code

CAATs provide the auditor to set up his own program to evaluate transactions moving through the computer system for processing. Several disadvantages in this setup include that the auditor experiences extra overhead in using extra programs to install into the company's software. The auditor must note when an unusual transaction happens, which may be difficult if not understanding the normal types of business transactions. The auditor also runs the risk of security issues if unauthorized users access the software program.

Online Program Testing

To perform online testing, the auditor creates real and fake data that manipulate the specific program. This allows the auditor to see whether the screen edit test is functioning properly. The auditor doesn't see an advantage of using CAATs during this testing, because real data may corrupt the results. Another disadvantage is that the auditor is permitted to use only one type of online program at a time to satisfy only one type of specific objective, cutting into his auditing time.

About the Author

Based in southwestern Pennsylvania, Michelle Hickman has written since 2006 on an array of topics including lifestyle, writing instruction and financial services. Her first articles appeared in "The Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Focus Magazine." She holds a certification in computer and information science from Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center.

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