Many organizations in Dubai and UAE adopted a hybrid working model in the wake of the pandemic in early 2020. Some people would work at home while others work in the office. Others will work remotely. Still others will combine both. This presents a new challenge not only to internal audit firms in Dubai but all over the world: how do you audit people who are scattered across different places? Hybrid auditing may be the answer. This article offers five tips to help internal audit service UAE teams successfully transition to hybrid.
Use an Audit Approach Decision Tree
A new component of the internal audit process is determining whether we are allowed to travel. There are many reasons why audit staff might not be able travel. These include budgetary constraints, local restrictions, corporate policy, inability or unwillingness to travel, and other factors such as budgetary constraints or corporate policy.
This information can take hours and make it difficult to plan. Before considering remote work, it is important to decide how much of the audit scope can be done remotely. What is the value of the on-site portion of the engagement? The scope of the on-site work can be restricted to high-risk areas or manual processes that are very personal, as well as cases of suspected fraud.
In some cases, internal audits may be better done remotely or in person. Your travel capabilities and the risk level of the area could be factors in deciding your audit method. Below is an example of how to decide whether you want to conduct an in-person, remote, or hybrid internal audit.
Local Resources are a Good Option.
The decision tree may lead to local resources being hired. Although outsourcing internal audit companies in Dubai’s work was always an option, this approach has changed over the years. There are two types of outsourcing options available: external and internal.
There may be internal resources available from other parts of the company that can complement the local audit team if there is no such staff. An internal subject matter expert could be a possible candidate. For audits that require direct observation, it is possible to observe through a local employee (e.g. via web meeting).
Traditional outsourcing models include outsourcing or co-sourcing with external firms. This model may not be economically feasible depending on the work scope. Independent internal audit firms in Dubai and UAE are being considered by many teams. Before the pandemic, freelance work was on the rise and has increased even more due to layoffs and furloughs.
Modernize the Audit Report Delivery
Pre-COVID, the internal audit report process included a formal meeting with senior management and auditees. A hybrid model could see audit teams reducing their time and energy by moving away from the traditional closing meeting and instead using a shorter pre-recorded video to discuss the issues in a shorter web conference.
Change Your Hiring Practices
Many industry audit offices in Dubai and UAE have always preferred to hire local employees. It is possible to expand your recruiting efforts to find the right people regardless of where they reside. Remote work environments can be a great place for some people. Some people are more motivated by coworkers and the social interaction they get. You can be transparent with candidates about the openness of your company to hybrid or fully remote work.
Updating the Audit Performance Assessment
The post-audit performance assessment should be updated if communication or logistics methods change for internal audits. The following questions are common when designing an assessment:
Did the engagement go as planned?
Did you have any problems delivering or receiving the documentation?
Did the team have the time to meet during the auditor’s normal working hours?
Did the team use communication tools to accommodate auditees and achieve the audit’s objectives
Did you establish communication expectations prior to the beginning of the internal audit?
Did the communication between management and the certified internal audit in Dubai team take place in a way that allowed for an effective exchange of information?
To ensure that the audit was completed on schedule, did the team provide regular status updates?
Did you have the appropriate management levels present at all times and were these discussions properly documented?
These questions will undoubtedly bring up remote vs. on-site auditing structures. This will help senior management refine their internal audit function approach moving forward.
These five key elements will help internal audit service Dubai teams like Farahat and co. make a smooth transition to remote or hybrid auditing. There are likely other considerations. These methods can be tested and evaluated with honesty to create a better environment for audit teams that maximize their resources, gain efficiencies, and add the most value to the company.