Last time I started my list of ideas to extract yourself out of reporting purgatory… you know the place…the place where your audit team starts turning on each other and rolling their eyes in disgust over how lame and wasteful the audit reporting process is.
And as I mentioned last time, it doesn’t have to be this way. Just make a few minor adjustments to how you approach the reporting process – and each other – and you will be getting those reports out sooner with less angst.
Last time we went over 8 ideas. Here are 7 more:
PAIN RELIEF IDEA #9: Take reviewers OUT of the review process
We auditors have gone wayyyyy too far when it comes to review. The auditor creates their work, a supervisor reviews it, a manager reviews it, a director reviews it, a quality control reviewer reviews it, it is inspected annually, and a peer reviewer might resurrect it and review it every three years. This is an insane amount of review.
Is there a way to shortcut the review process for your audit report? Who can you take out of the process and still get a quality result? And if you can’t take them out, can you give them a firm turn-around time so they don’t hold onto it for too long?
PAIN RELIEF IDEA #10: Document your reporting process and lean it
We auditors are really good at documenting our auditees processes, but we seldom turn our attention to our own processes.
Take some time to write out the steps you go through to get a report out of your office, and then apply lean/six sigma techniques to re-engineer the process. Work with your audit team members to eliminate the waste and clear the clogs so you can get things done faster. For a self study book on Lean/SixSigma, please enjoy this book authored by Betsy Neidel and myself.
PAIN RELIEF IDEA #11: Set clear expectations for findings
Granny used to say, “You can’t get what you want until you know what you want.” So, are you being clear about your expectations for what you want to see in an audit report? If not, how can your team win?
Please see this video about how to set expectations and give feedback and how that will solve 80% of your performance issues with your team.
Many of you have enjoyed my classes on findings and reporting and in them you have seen my list of expectations for crafted findings. That list allows me to review other people’s work and provide feedback without hurting their feelings. Do you have such a list?
PAIN RELIEF IDEA #12: Keep the grammar police at bay until the end of the process
There are specially gifted professionals who can see a grammar error from 50 paces.
I love it when they catch silly errors in my writing. But I don’t want to hear from them until I have locked down my content. Otherwise, their edits send me into a flurry of activity editing words and sentences that are likely to disappear altogether. Another silly waste of time.
PAIN RELIEF IDEA #13: Edit in the proper sequence
The first thing you should concern yourself with as an editor is making sure the content and the way it is organized is logical and supported by evidence. Once the audit team nails that, then you turn your eyes toward editing for readability.
Readability concerns include use of the active voice, use of parallel phrasing and bullets, use of frequent subtitles, etc.
The last thing that you edit for is grammar.
Don’t make the mistake of doing all of it at the same time. For more on how to edit using the three phases see this blog post.
PAIN RELIEF IDEA #14: Give yourself and your audit team time away from the project to increase objectivity
NASBA requires me to edit my books every year. And I have about 14 of them out there in the world.
Sometimes I look back at my writing and ask, “Was I on crack?” Sometimes I look at it and say, “ Man this is really good. Did I write that?”
Either way I am much more objective about my own writing the further I get away from it.
If you can only put an hour’s lunch between you and your last draft, put the draft away for lunch. If you can wait to look at it again until the next morning, you’ll see all kinds of improvements that you could make. Give yourself a week and you’ll be amazed at your new perspective.
Objectivity can’t be created if you wait until the very last minute to draft your audit report.
Again, I recommend that you outline early. Then draft full sentences once you have the executive team’s approval on your content and you have the evidence you need to back up everything you want to say. After that, step away for as long as you possibly can. Then, come back to the draft to review it and make your edits.
Did you know that you’re supposed to edit your own work seven times before you send it in? That’s a crazy number isn’t it? Please see this article supporting that idea.
PAIN RELIEF IDEA #15: Manage up by telling managers what you need to succeed
And please remember that you are a full grown adult with a college degree. You have every right to tell your executives what you need to succeed.
If the process and the feedback that you’re receiving is unproductive, wasteful, and oppressive, say something about it. Suggest improvements.
Or you always have the ability to vote with your feet (that means you can walk out and get another job!). Auditors are in high demand right now and if the powers that be refuse to make things better, then your only choice is to get another gig.
If you want to find another job where they have a reasonable reporting process (notice I said reasonable… as no one is going to have a perfect process or perfect reviewers) please check out our free job posting site here at YellowBook-CPE.
Here’s a good video on how to manage up that I play during my audit leadership course.
You don’t have to suffer. But you do have to make some changes.