The technology of Audit Assistant

Auditing traditionally was carried out using paper handwritten files. Then with the arrival of the personal computer auditing began to use the efficiency gains available by word processor and spreadsheet programs.

Audit Assistant combines concepts from all these plus harnessing the power real-time on-line processing via the internet. The following trends are driving the move towards this technology:

  • Firms using multi-site , remote working and flex-working to utilise resources to the fullest
  • Move to paperless office environments
  • Requirement for peer review/ quality control- often from another city
  • The potential of running a professional practice without expensive internal networks
  • Developments in Web/Cloud technology that now allow web-based applications to run as well or better than desktop software solutions
  • Issues of security and disaster recovery
  • Potentially a firm may run a full audit/assurance function without an internal network as our platform provides this network via the internet
  • Trend to Software as a Service(SaaS) over ownership as a more predictable and economical cost model - SaaS means the software is maintained by us on a server and accessed by users over the internet.

We adopted the SaaS model for our services because:

  • Security on a SaaS model is as high or higher than a normal office-based network or PC/Laptop
  • It allows for constant improvement with content continually updated and serviced rather than requiring major re-writes and complete new releases
  • All modern browsers will run web based services like Audit Assistant, therefore computer type, operating system or network type is not an issue
  • It allows smaller firms to stay competitive with greater demands and fee pressure- helping smaller niche firms to achieve high quality audits for a reasonable cost
  • Higher risk environment for auditors requires a more standardised rigorous approach

 

The Audit Assistant platform is primarily based in web application framework Ruby on Rails, with all our new modules usingNode.js, using aMySQL database:

  • Hosted with Auckland, NZ based cloud hosting specialists Sitehost 
  • Full daily backups of the database plus job snapshots made at critical points, plus attachments are stored with data storage provider Amazon S3 (now in Australia - previously in USA)
    • Backup of the whole database is automated using daily 'snapshot' system enabling users to revert to prior versions of the job in case of accidental data deletion
  • Data in transit is protected by encryption to minimise the possibility of access by unauthorised parties
    • Users may log on to their work wherever there is internet connection (via broadband or wireless)
    • Multiple staff in any number of locations may work on any part of the audit workbook concurrently
    • Partners or managers may review work in spare moments from overseas, in airports, cafes via Laptop, Smart-phone or Tablet
  • Every firm has a unique URL which ensures that there is no possibility of data being accessed by other firms
    • Every user in the firm has a unique log-in so that all work may be traced to a specific user
    • Each firm has a unique URL
    • Each user is assigned a unique login and chooses a password
    • Users are also allocated a role by the account administrator (Partner, Manager, Senior, Junior, Peer Reviewer)
    • These allow different levels of authority (only a Partner can perform the final sign off for example)
    • Staff are assigned to individual jobs and only able to work on those jobs
    • As work is performed each work item is tagged with the user name and date of work completion, providing total accountability
    • Only staff at a higher level may delete or edit work,
    • When work is edited it is re-assigned to the editor (name and date)
  • Access to client records within Audit Assistant team is restricted to owner permission for support purposes
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