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The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.
With no place to work in the office of the housing authority of a major city, the audit team was provided tables and chairs in the hallway of a renovated apartment building that connected the swinging front door with the elevators. In the middle of winter in a city located on a bay, the wind swept into the hallway driving temperatures to near freezing. Clothed in parkas, scarves, wool hats and gloves, the audit team struggled through the engagement.
Auditing rural hospitals, CPA firm personnel were ordinarily assigned to a patient room for workspace since there was no room for them in the hospital office. This year there were no patient rooms available so they were assigned to the morgue! Steel tables and high stools were their accommodations. Formaldehyde, dead bodies draped in sheets and the medical examiner’s buzz saw greeted them each day.
The auditors of a plumbing contractor were assigned a dark, damp room in the basement for workspace. The room was two flights of stairs and several hundred yards from the accounting office.
Two auditors were assigned workspace at a desk adjacent to and facing the controller. The controller smoked, they didn’t.
I could relate more true stories on and I suspect you could add your experiences to this list of inadequate fieldwork workspace. Here are some obvious questions:
1. Did any of these scenarios increase time charges on the engagements?
2. Who had responsibility to correct or prevent these circumstances?
3. When should corrective action be taken?
4. What actions should have been taken?
Question 1: Of course time charges were increased! The auditors of the housing authority said the audit required almost twice the amount of time it should have. The hospital auditors lost numerous hours going for fresh air and to the restroom to vomit! Going back and forth to the accounting office wasted enormous amounts of time, although the team did lose weight. Not only was the health of the non-smokers impaired, they wasted time leaving the room to discuss audit issues and securing all working papers and electronic equipment every time they left the room.
Question 2: The in-charge accountants on these engagements had responsibility to run the fieldwork but their “stick” wasn’t big enough to get the managements to change their workspace. It was the engagement leaders’ responsibility to speak with managements to correct the situations.
Question 3: If the workspace could not be improved internally, a nearby motel room, a recreation vehicle parked outside a client’s facility or an electronic air filer could be remedies. The cost of these alternatives is likely far less than the unbillable wasted time.
Question 4: This is a planning activity! Proper workspace should be arranged by the engagement leader before the fieldwork begins. Engagement profits can be increased considerably by using foresight and arranging for proper workspace!
Sitting in close proximity of the same people day after day, night after night tends to wear on a person (and if you happen to be sleeping with them, it’s worse).
You start noticing the most mundane, yet painfully annoying habits of your fellow auditors and they can drive you up the boringly-beige wall. Pretty soon, assault and battery seems like your only course of action. We ask that you refrain from beat downs (it’s just not considered good professional to batter your co-workers these days), but it is, of course, your God-given right to gripe about it and share your gripes behind the offending co-workers’ back.
But before you get too high and mighty, are you absolutely sure you’re not one of the annoying ones? We consulted another former audit room survivor, DWB, and no one is immune. In order to make you more aware of your personal, er, shortcomings, we’ve assembled this handly list of the most common bad habits that occur in the audit room:
• Eating – You either eat food that makes the entire room reek or you happen to simultaneously masticate and opine on recent accounting developments. Trying to burp quietly is an act in futility and don’t react to your food like it’s sexually stimulating (even if it is). All of these make you terrible to be around.
• Personal phone calls – You know that guy that takes three phone calls from his girlfriend every single day at the exact same time? Or you happen to call your mother every day to shoot the breeze for 45 minutes. Oh, that’s you? Well, not only are you shamefully whipped and/or dependent you’re annoying the hell out of everyone else within earshot.
• Humming, whistling and/or singing – For the love of God, why on Earth is necessary to audibly hum a tune that you’re making up in your head? Furthermore, why would you put words to it? You’re an auditor, not Andrew Lloyd Webber. (And no, it’s not OK if the tune is actually one of Mr Lloyd Webber’s compositions – actually that might be worse.)
Now for those of you that simply think that a set of headphones will solve all these problems, we regret to inform you you’re gravely mistaken. Once these habits have saturated a person’s psyche, any movement, otherwise normal, will amplify the inner wrath to deistic proportions.
The above list is by no means all-inclusive and we’ll admit that our tolerance for bad human behavior is lower than most but the issue is important enough to warrant discussion and possible solutions.
After a tight race, one caption ended up pulling away.
With just over 20% of the vote. If you’ve got audit rooms (or any photos for that matter) that you feel are worthy of a caption contest, send them our way. Thanks for voting.
We’ve got a close race in the craptacular caption contest. Polls close tomorrow night at midnight, so you’ve still got plenty of time to vote if you haven’t already.
And if you truly think you’ve got worse digs than this, send us your photos, we’re curious as how sadistic clients can be when it comes to accommodating their auditors.
Who knew servants of the capital markets could be so creative? Since democracy is alive and well here at GC, it’s about time to get the vote on this one going.
Here are the finalists:
A. If you think that’s bad, you should see where the prior year work papers are kept.
B. You think this is bad, the intern’s desk is inside the bathroom.
C. The audit staff showed the client who is boss by blocking entry to the restroom until the accountants provided the requested PBC’s.
D. Don’t think the .05% raise was the only benefit to becoming a senior manager.
E. In retrospect, the auditors realized that they shouldn’t have expressed so much concern over where the client was going.
F. Upon their arrival to their workstation, the audit team quickly understood the reasoning behind the under-accrual for utilities expense for the months of January through March.
Just a friendly reminder to submit your best captions for the audit room outside the ladies’ rain closet. Jump over the to the original post to submit your caption.
We’ll take submissions through the end of tomorrow, so get your team together and come up with something that will impress us. Your productivity starts waning this week anyway.
And while you’re at it, if you’re an auditor that works in ridiculous conditions, send us your pictures of your dungeon, closet, or your client-provided school desk.