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Less is more when it comes to audit documentation

Audit & Beyond speaks to John Selwood about his tips to minimise unnecessary documentation and how to avoid documenting irrelevant and unimportant things.

Audit documentation is regularly featured on lists of the most common areas where file reviewers find room for improvement. This is reflected in audit quality reports, such as Audit monitoring 2019 from ICAEW and its support materials for members. Most feedback on weaknesses in documentation relates to its inadequacy or insufficiency, but reviewers also come across over-documentation and audit files containing unnecessary documentation on sometimes interesting but irrelevant or unimportant things.

 “More documentation is not necessarily better documentation,” says John Selwood, lecturer, writer and member of the faculty’s Practitioner Services Panel. “Audit teams sometimes think that it is better to document too much than too little. But lots of unnecessary documentation can obscure what is important and give the impression that the auditor does not know what they are doing.” File reviewers sometimes find too much documentation on low-risk areas and not enough on more difficult, higher-risk areas.Improving audit documentation