Do you seem to get caught in an endless cycle of review and revision in your audit shop? In this course, we will diagnose and help resolve the root cause of your problems. The Yellow Book requires the use of the elements of a finding - and if you use them correctly, the writing process is streamlined and your reports strengthened. The author, Leita Hart-Fanta, has reviewed hundreds of findings and shares her insights on how to (and how not to!) coach the team to better writing behaviors. We cover IIA, AICPA, and Yellow Book reporting standards as well as tell you how to meet the standards.
This course qualifies for Yellow Book CPE credit.
Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:
- Identify what is causing a problem with report writing in a given scenario.
- Name the main purpose of a financial audit of an organization.
- Cite the most important element of a persuasive argument found in reports.
- Identify a statement of audit scope.
- Choose a focused objective that will result in a relatively easy reporting process from several options.
- Specify the relationship of the audit process to the reporting process.
- Cite a specific part of the audit report from a given example.
- Name the most difficult component of the audit report to develop.
- Choose the initial statement that is most likely to encourage a reader to continue reading from several alternatives.
- Identify a barrier to a reader in a given selection.
- Cite a communication mistake in an email.
- Specify a statement that uses the most professional tone and an audit finding title that is the most negative.
- Name the common error being displayed in a piece of writing.
- List the audience best suited to a specific level of detail in an audit report.
- Choose a phrase that will cause the most negative reaction from an auditee.
- Cite which statement from a series is differential and professional.
- Cite the most important GAO guideline given a specific situation.
- List a situation where an auditor might be purposely vague in an audit report.
- Specify the guideline recommended by the GAO for the quality of audit reports.
- Name the standards that must be followed in a financial audit using Yellow Book standards.
- Identify the Yellow Book financial audit reporting requirement that adds a balanced tone to a report.
- Name the trigger of an audit finding in a given example.
- Cite why a specific audit finding may be difficult for an auditee to work with.
- Specify an example of noncompliance.
- List two good qualities of an audit recommendation.
- Cite how to handle a specific issue in a performance audit and what a conclusion might look like.
- Choose a circumstance under which the distribution of an audit report may be limited.
- Name an AICPA reporting requirement.
- Specify an item that is most likely to be in a report that complies with AICPA SASs.
- Name the standard that distinguishes between standards and practice advisories.
- Choose an audit report requirement of the IIA that is not one in a Yellow Book performance audit.
- Identify an AICPA reporting requirement.
- Cite an audit standard that requires an action plan and one that requires audit reports and communications to be accurate, timely, objective, and constructive.
- Specify why an auditor may be blameless when issuing recommendations in an audit.
- Choose the next best move in writing up audit findings in a given scenario.
- Name a troublesome writing habit.
- List the proper sequence of events in the writing process.
- Cite the step where an auditor would begin adjusting when moving from a nine-step writing process to a six-step one.
- Name the likely root cause in a situation once the cause is rolled up.
- List an audit subject that might be interesting to the board chairman of an auditee.
- Choose a good example of a clear action step.
- Specify a basic expectation missing from a sample outline of a finding.
- Cite a statement that would likely be found in an executive summary of an audit report.
- Cite correct guidance for fleshing out an executive summary and a worthy goal of such a summary.
- Specify where important background information should be put in a report.
- Name a task to be done during the drafting stage of the writing process.
- Name the first thing to be done when editing an audit report for organization.
- Cite a reason to revise a recommendation during the organization phase of editing and a readability issue in a sample selection.
- List the format enhancement that takes the shortest time to implement.
- List the sequence of steps for editing that makes the most sense and saves time.
- Choose the finding title that is the most compelling or descriptive.
- Specify the last task to be completed in editing before issuing the report.
- Choose the document that has the most appealing format from a list of choices.
- List a good beginning question when coaching an auditor on his or her writing and a good way to help fix a statement in his or her report.
- Cite a counterproductive statement when giving writing feedback.
Table of Contents
Section 1 – What’s up with Your Team’s Writing?
Chapter 1 – Business Writing
What’s Your Problem? The Root of Writing Problems
Four Criteria for Good Business Writing
Principle #1: A Good Audit Report Engages the Reader’s Attention
Principle #2: A Good Audit Report Persuades the Reader that Change Should Occur
Principle #3: A Good Audit Report is Mercifully Brief
Principle #4: A Good Audit Report is Clear and Well Organized
How this Text is Organized
Chapter 1 Review Questions
Chapter 2 – Does Your Audit Process Lead to a Good Audit Report?
The Report Can Only Be as Good as the Audit Itself
The Worst Audit Ever!
Establish Expectations for your Team
Design a Sound Audit Process: Begin with the Objective, Scope, and Methodology
What Makes a Good Audit Objective?
How Do You Define the Audit’s Scope?
How Do You Define the Audit’s Methodology?
Possible Elements of an Audit Report
Chapter 2 Review Questions
Chapter 3 – Audience, Tone, and Length
Who is the Audience?
Who is the Main Audience for Your Report?
How Do You Find out What the Client Cares About?
Create a Report with Layers
Are You Setting up Hurdles for the Reader?
Hurdle #1: Your Job Title
Hurdle #2: How You Have Treated Your Reader in the Past
Hurdle #3: The Format
Hurdle #4: The Weight
Hurdle #5: The Title
Hurdle #6: The First Paragraph
Hurdle #7: The Logic/Organization
Tone is a Tricky Thing
The Rug Lifters: An Analogy
What is the Auditor Going to Do about the Dirt?
Which Approach is Best?
Where Do You Draw the Line?
The “At Your Service!” Approach
Our Tricky Little Minds: Cognitive Distortions that Affect Tone
How Long is Too Long?
How Long Should Your Report Be?
What to Communicate via Email or Memo
Working Papers vs. Audit Reports
You Don’t Have to Please Your English Teacher Anymore!
Good Business Writing is Like a Good Experience with Getting Your Blood Drawn
Chapter 3 Review Questions
Section 2 – The Standards: Yellow Book, AICPA, and IIA
Chapter 4 – Overview of the Auditing Standards
Audits, Standards-Setters, and Auditors, Oh My
Types of Audits
Who Are These People? Standards-Setting Bodies
Alternative Titles for Those Not Following Auditing Standards
Audits vs. Investigations
The Relationship of GAO Standards (GAGAS) to Other Standards
Comparing the Standards: The GAO Cares About the Quality of the Report
Chapter 4 Review Questions
Chapter 5 – Reporting Standards for Financial Audits
GAGAS Compliance Statement
Reporting on Internal Control and on Compliance with Laws, Regulations, and Provisions of Contracts or Grant Agreements
Reporting Deficiencies in Internal Control, Fraud, Illegal Acts, Violations of Provisions of Contracts or Grant Agreements, and Abuse
The Elements of a Finding
Direct Reporting of Fraud, Illegal Acts, Violations of Provisions of Contracts or Grant Agreements, and Abuse
Reporting Views of Responsible Officials
Reporting Privileged and Confidential Information
Report Issuance and Distribution
Chapter 5 Review Questions
Chapter 6 – Reporting Standards for Performance Audits
Organization of the performance Audit Reporting Chapter
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology
Reporting compliance with GAGAS
Reporting Views of Responsible Officials
Reporting Privileged and Confidential Information
Report Issuance and Distribution
Chapter 6 Review Questions
Chapter 7 – IIA Standards and AICPA Standards
The Institute of Internal Auditor’s International Professional Practices Framework
The CAE is Responsible for Communications
AICPA Reporting Standards
Chapter 7 Review Questions
Section 3 – The Writing Process
Chapter 8 – Overview of the Writing Process
Streamline Your Writing Using the Nine-Step Process
Tips for Using the Nine-Step Process
Make it Easy on Yourself: Do Each Step Individually
Delay Creating Full Sentences for as Long as Possible
Get Buy-in Along the Way
Share with Others
Create the Executive Summary First
Chapter 8 Review Questions
Chapter 9 – Planning
Step #1: Outline the Objective, Scope, and Methodology
Step #2: Outline the Detail Section
Step #2A: Get Your Thoughts on Paper
Some Things Need to Be Thrown out!
Step #2B: Fill out the Finding Form
The Finding Form: The Key to Happiness
A Few Rules about Using the Elements
Use All Five Elements
Use Only One of Each Element
The Elements Must Match
What Do You Want the Reader to Do?
Address the Root Cause
Step #2C: Evaluate and Reorganize
Remove Extraneous Information
Step Away for a While
Keep Several Pots Going on the Stove
Step #2D: Evaluate Evidence Gathered
Step #3: Outline an Executive Summary
What is an Executive Summary?
What Does an Executive Summary Contain?
Chapter 9 Review Questions
Chapter 10 – Drafting
Step #4: Draft the Objective, Scope, Methodology, Detail, and Executive Summary
Drafting the Objective, Scope, and Methodology
Drafting the Executive Summary
Step #5: Draft the Remaining Pieces of the Report
Create the Standard Letters
Develop the Background Info if Necessary
Chapter 10 Review Questions
Chapter 11 – Editing and Formatting
Step #6: Edit the Entire Report for Organization
Read This Finding
Now Evaluate This Finding
Step #7: Edit the Entire Report for Readability
Criteria for a Readable Report
A Word or Two on Redundancy
Step #8: Edit for Mechanical Correctness
Find the Talent
Steps to Take Before You Issue Your Report
Just for Fun
Step 9: Formatting: Make it Pretty, Please
Make it Appealing
Develop a Style Guide
Chapter 11 Review Questions
Section 4 – Coaching
Chapter 12 – How to Talk to Folks about Their Writing
Coaching is Really All about the Questions
Resist Handing over a Marked-up Report
Meet in Person
Apply Agreed-Upon Guidelines
Do Not Concern Yourself with Their Style
Never Rewrite Their Work
How to Talk to the Writer
Ask, Don’t Tell
Respect Their Knowledge
Say, “I Don’t Understand”
Avoid Using the Word You
Bring the Focus Back to the Objective Criteria for Good Writing
Restate What They Have Written or Said
Ask Questions to Redirect the Report Meeting
If the Product is Poor, It’s Probably Your Fault
Chapter 12 Review Questions
Review Question Answers and Rationales
Appendix A – Executive Summaries
Appendix B – Whole Reports
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