The Coronavirus is straining organizations around the country and around the world. Nobody knows if this situation will last for six weeks… or for six months.

How will this crisis affect your credit union’s audit program? How will you need to adjust? If your audit team needs to work remotely, what will that mean for your credit union, your audit team, or your ability to coordinate with others?

 

Can Credit Union Audit Programs Run Remotely?

We’ve spoken with credit unions of all sizes about how they run their audit programs. There are a few pain points that we hear again and again:

  • Most credit unions use spreadsheets and emails to manage their audit program. Critical audit information is spread all over the place. It’s unorganized and messy, which contributes to items slipping through the cracks.
  • Findings stay open for too long. When individual findings stay open too long, that leads to an aggregate of open findings. They pile up until things feel overwhelming or unmanageable.
  • Business units are frustrated. They have other important priorities outside of the audit program, and they don’t have time to hunt or search through complicated spreadsheets. They don’t have the time to learn complicated systems to figure out what needs to be done. (Basically, they don’t have time to play “Where’s Waldo” with their tasks to know what they need to do.)

So, what do these issues have to do with running an audit program remotely?

All of these problems are exacerbated by working from home. There’s less opportunity for direct human interaction, which cuts off the easiest mode of communication. The old method of so-called “organization” with spreadsheets and emails, long-open findings, and frustrated business units is typically mitigated with direct human interaction. Simply running into people in the office, answering quick questions, and talking through things works wonders—even if it’s not efficient.

When working remotely, that’s not possible. What can be done about it? Our credit union partners have done three things to help:

Three Ways to Successfully Run Your Audit Program Remotely

The credit unions we’ve worked with have executed three strategies to ensure their audit program runs effectively and efficiently. These strategies allow you to maintain a high level of execution while working remotely. Sure, they’re using Redboard, but you can implement these ideas on your own, too.

1.    Centralize all your materials.

This directly addresses the problem with having spreadsheets and emails all over the place. Ideally, you’ll want a system that manages this for you. If that’s not an option, you have two alternatives.

First, you can create your own centralized database for your files where everything can be found in a common location. The idea here is that you want to create a one stop shop where everything can be found quickly.

If the first alternative won’t work and you need to stick with spreadsheets to manage your tasks, you can optimize your use of spreadsheets. For example, instead of dividing different audit activities over multiple spreadsheets, you can create one master sheet that contains all of your necessary audit information. Or perhaps you create a standardized naming and organization scheme so that information can be found more easily. Another option is to create templates and macros to ensure that consistent processes are followed across different audits.

Regardless of whether you’re running an internal or external audit, you’ll want everything to be organized and in one place. This ensures that all users can locate and use any necessary materials without having to hunt anything down.

2.    Create an accountability system.

You should always feel confident that tasks will be completed on time and as expected. You need to know which tasks are outstanding, who they’re assigned to, and when they’re due.

An accountability system should extend beyond your audit team. Make sure that all participants in the audit, including business users, are part of the accountability process.

You’ll want to be sure to set up reminders to tell people when things are due. The whole process should be extremely transparent. If things are unclear, then your team and your stakeholders will become frustrated.

3.    Cater to your business units.

From the audit team’s perspective, maintaining the same level of execution while working remotely is a strain. But that strain is even bigger for business units. Here’s why:

They’re running the core operations of your credit union. That includes branch operations, running lending programs, and other major critical business areas. These are important jobs to focus on, and they’ll be struggling during the fallout from the Coronavirus as well.

Nevertheless, they’re a key part of your audit program. So, to minimize the amount of additional work on their plates, your audit team should cater to them and make it as simple as possible for them to complete their tasks. Here’s how you can do that:

  1. Keep all audit materials in one place. People shouldn’t have to search high and low for what they need. Make it easy for them to do their part.
  2. Report and remind consistently. Business units have their own priorities, and your needs are probably not at the top of their list. Consistent status reports and reminders about what’s coming up will help them manage their time between the audit program and their core responsibilities.
  3. Make things as simple and intuitive as possible. Your audit program shouldn’t make things harder for others. Any tools or techniques you use shouldn’t require training, extra time, or other delays to their normal workflow. Make it as simple and as easy as possible on your business units.

Additional Resources

Following the steps above will give you a much better chance at success in running your credit union’s audit program remotely. And, just to reiterate, those steps are:

  1. Centralize your materials
  2. Put together an accountability system
  3. Cater to your business units

We understand that putting together steps to work from home like this can be difficult and time consuming. Especially with the Coronavirus in play, the level of preparation and extra measures needed to successfully run an audit program remotely is considerable.

Fortunately, we at Redboard have experience helping credit unions manage their audit programs. Moreover, we understand that each credit union has specific needs, so generalized solutions might not fit. So, in these times, we’re happy to act as a resource. Here’s how we can help:

We’re happy to take phone calls or answer emails about how to remotely run your audit process. We’ve helped our credit union customers with the same issues. We’re here to share their experiences with you and help you through the process.

We also offer a turnkey platform, Redboard, that solves all the issues listed above. If you don’t have the time or the resources to build your own remote audit program, Redboard can handle that need. Credit Union of Southern California, a Redboard subscriber, was fully operational on Redboard within two days of subscribing. They measured a 33% time savings on their first examination, and more importantly, they needed no training. In their words, “[with] how intuitive it was, we hardly had to do any training at all.”

Regardless of whether you’re interested in Redboard or if you just want guidance on how to do it yourself, please reach out. We’re here to help. We’ve been helping the credit union industry for over 20 years, and we’d like to offer support through these times any way we can.

You can contact us here.