Importance of time management for auditors and accountants

We all have 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week and 365 in a year.  Then how is it that some people just seem to accomplish so much more in those hours than others? It's called time management. There are a lot of time wasters and techniques but here are just a few easy ones for auditors and accountants:

Auditors                                                      

In the auditing environment, time management is critical in meeting deadlines. During the planning phase of an audit, a budget is prepared, setting out the time for each of the sections - carrying out audit procedures, time of review by the audit manager and partner, etc.

Often on an audit there are unplanned situations that may delay meeting these budgeted deadlines. Examples of these unplanned situations include documentation or information not being received on a timely basis from a client, documentation provided by a client is inaccurate, change in approach of testing if standard procedures don’t meet the audit objective and even errors discovered during testing can result in additional unplanned procedures.

It is important to keep a list of all the tasks that still need to be completed, of information and documents requested that are still outstanding.  That way you can track your progress and be able to manage your time effectively.

Accountants

In the accounting environment, time management is important for meeting both monthly and year-end deadlines, especially when the company needs to prepare for an audit.

In preparation for month-end reporting, don’t leave work to the last minute - complete what you can ahead of time. Having reporting templates that can be updated easily and quickly on a monthly basis can go a long way in saving time in preparing schedules at the last minute for an audit. Excel is a great tool to assist with this. In Excel, formulae can be used to prepare reconciliations, month on month analysis and other schedules by extracting the information from the basic data. Initial set up of these schedules may be time consuming at first but once these schedules are set up, it is a quick and easy task to update them at year-end or month end.

For companies that have a short period of time in which to report final figures and provide final audited financial statements, schedules and year end reporting needs to be completed in a timeous manner. This is where accountants and management can put into place deadlines for closing off accounting records and preparing information and schedules.

General

Making use of everyday tools can help manage time and tasks such as your calendar. Simply adding tasks in your calendar and flagging emails with reminders can help keep you organised. Have a list of tasks to accomplish every day and arranging them according to deadline so that more important and urgent tasks are done first.

Maxine Hammond

Manager: Audit readiness and special projects, Johannesburg


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