Audit and accounting is certainly an area that need a lot of innovation. Labour heave, administration horror and time consuming. This is a segment that are in desperate need of innovation when it comes to work-process and tools. The below three simple steps might at least be a start to make life for us that suffer audit an accounting annually.

I am in the middle of an audit for one of my companies. It is horrible, a pure disaster. The amount of information requests and documents to fill in, sign and stamp (yes in Singapore a company stamp is default for all agreements).

A typical iteration looks like this, now please note that this is one out of approximately ten similar iterations:

  1. An e-mail arrives from the auditor with request for some info and attached is also three documents to fill in and sign.
  2. I print and fill in the information, sign etc.
  3. Scan documents
  4. Attache scanned documents to e-mail
  5. Get reply from auditor with comments
  6. Re-print documents
  7. Fill in all the f**cking info again, with the small updates from auditor.
  8. Scan document
  9. Attached scanned documents to e-mail

Now this loop naturally continues and loops are still in progress. Since many e-mail with documents from the auditor contain several documents that requires action, several loops are now completely integrated in a huge catastrophically mail-thread that no oven ever will be able to make sense of.

On top of this much of the information is already available to the auditor, but for some reason it is needed to be sent again in their preferred format etc.

Thera are many potential threats in this behaviour.

  • Information will be missed in long mail threads
  • Naturally the auditor need hard-copies as well, how to keep track of all the changes and the most accurate printed document
  • Mixing topics is never good and not all tasks will be handled as swiftly as possible
  • Impossible to keep track
  • Time consuming
  • Environment unfriendly (just had to pull that card as well)
  • Mail is a disaster for these kind of topics, but still everyone uses it

Audit and Accounting #asitshouldbe

It is actually quite simple. Three things will solve most of the hassle. The benefits will be huge. The primary benefits would be:

  1. Time savings
  2. Full information trail
  3. No dependencies on other things then internet and a computer
  4. Still compliant and follows regulations

1. e-signature

Long live Scrive. Now this is the simplest and most efficient way to speed up this process. The benefits are huge and breaks down a lot of hurdles immediately.

The benefits are as follows:

  1. Speed to signed document will decrease dramatically since you can sign on the mobile and you will never need a pen or a printer. The outmost excellent product here is Scrive, love Scrive and use it as often as I possible can.
  2. You always know the status and all parties gets updates and final document when all have signed.
  3. Revision control and only the legit version is circulated.

Now, many do shout what about fraud etc. This is actually funny, in what way is a paper document send via post / courier and then signed (by someone) with a pen to lastly be posted back. How do we know it is the right person who signed etc etc. With e-signing we have full control.

e-Signing is compliant with regulations in the wast majority of countries around the world including both of my countries Sweden and Singapore. In Singapore they even take the paper thing to the extrem (even though e-signing is fully legit). Many times they send unsigned documents via post or even expensive courier instead of just sending them over e-mail or better uploaded on Scrive, that analog process is almost like the pony express in the old days.

2. Ticket / Collaboration software

In a business that is so heavily regulated as audit and accounting I cannot in my wildest dreams understand why e-mail is the primary tool. It is impossible to keep a trail of all conversations and all document versions. If all conversations, tasks etc would be managed in a easy to use solution. The benefits would be the following amongst others:

  1. Well document trail of everything
  2. Decrease the amount of time spend
  3. Always know where to look, searching is the e-mail is not always an fantastic experience (even though Google is making it OK for those on their products)

3. Document storage / sharing

Dropbox, Box et al. Some companies have actually started to use Dropbox or similar solutions for sharing and store all documents, receipt and agreements etc. That is also one step in the right direction and something everyone should do.

Increase client satisfaction and grow client base

This industry is usually very labour intensive and with only the three above suggestions the industry could decrease their cost significantly and let the talented people in these organisations focus on audit and accounting instead of admin that do not benefit the clients (rather the opposite since high fees for worthless time spent on un-necessary work). These companies would also get higher client satisfaction and would most definitely gain more clients.

e-Siggnatures and collaboration solution etc is just a small step, there is also a huge potential in actually really take this industry to a new level, but that will be a bigger task since scaling will demand customization for each country and in some countries even customisations within the country (kantons, states etc).

With above three steps most auditors and accountants can still maintain their local knowledge as well as expanding globally with much less effort.

I know there are some pretty innovative companies out there that actually have started to include these things in their offerings and also some companies aiming for the global scaling potential. Which ones do come to mind for you?