Audit working papers, also known as audit documentation, are the records and supporting documents that auditors prepare and maintain throughout the audit engagement. These papers serve as a comprehensive and organized record of the audit procedures performed, the evidence gathered, the conclusions reached, and the audit team’s overall work.
The primary purposes of audit working papers are to:
Document Audit Evidence: Working papers provide a detailed account of the audit procedures conducted, the evidence obtained, and the conclusions drawn. They demonstrate the audit team’s compliance with professional auditing standards and provide a basis for the audit opinion.
Facilitate Review and Supervision: Working papers facilitate review and supervision by audit managers and partners. They allow higher-level auditors to understand the audit approach, assess the quality of the work performed, and provide appropriate guidance and feedback to the audit team.
Support the Audit Opinion: Working papers serve as evidence to support the audit opinion expressed by the external auditor. They demonstrate that the audit was conducted in accordance with auditing standards and that the auditor has sufficient and appropriate evidence to support the conclusions reached.
Provide Future Reference: Audit working papers serve as a reference for future audits. They provide insight into prior audit findings, procedures, and areas of focus, which can be valuable for subsequent audits.
Key contents of audit working papers may include:
Audit Planning: The audit plan, risk assessment, and audit strategy documents.
Audit Procedures: Details of specific procedures performed, including inquiry, inspection, observation, and testing of transactions and balances.
Audit Evidence: The source and nature of evidence obtained, such as financial statements, bank statements, invoices, contracts, and other supporting documents.
Significant Findings: Documentation of significant audit findings, exceptions, or issues identified during the audit process.
Adjustments and Reconciliations: Records of adjusting journal entries, reconciliation of accounts, and other audit adjustments.
Internal Control Evaluation: Assessment of internal controls, including control testing and evaluation of control deficiencies.
Correspondence and Communication: Records of communications with management, the audit committee, and other relevant parties.
Review Notes: Comments and feedback from supervisors or higher-level auditors reviewing the working papers.
Cross-References: Cross-referencing to tie together related working papers and provide a logical flow of the audit process.
Audit working papers are considered the property of the audit firm and are subject to confidentiality and security measures. They are typically retained for a specified period, as required by professional standards and regulatory requirements.
The thoroughness and organization of audit working papers are essential for maintaining audit quality, ensuring compliance with auditing standards, and supporting the integrity of the audit process.