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Auditing Fundamentals

12. 1D Roles and responsibilities of audit participants

One of the CQA certified quality auditors body ofknowledge is auditing fundamentals in that so far wehave talked about types of quality audits, purpose andscope of audits, criteria to audit against. Now, the next topic that we will be discussing here is the roles and responsibilities of audit participants. Who are the parties involved in audits? In an audit, there are three important parties: the client, auditor, and audit. The client is the organisation or the person who is requesting an audit. Auditor is the person who is conducting the audit andthe audit is the organization, the whole organisation or apart of that organisation which is being audited. So the client requests the audit, the auditor does the audit, and the auditor is the one who is getting audited. Let's understand the role of these three parties, and then we will look at three more roles in the audit process. But let's start with the role of these three parties. here, starting with the role of the client in the audit. So the client is the one who initiates the audit and requires the audit to be done, and since the client requires the audit to be done, then clients need to provide the purpose and scope of the audit as well. And in addition, the client is required to provide resources for conducting the audit and receive the report from the auditor. And the client also determines who will be getting this report. Of course, client will be the one whowill be getting the report at least. However, in addition to the client, who will receive this audit report as determined by the client, So these are the roles of the client in the audit process, coming to the next party, which is the auditor. What's the role of an auditor in an audit? The auditor needs to understand the purpose, scope, and audit criteria that the client has provided to the auditor. And then the auditor plans the audit, performs the audit, collects the audit evidence through interviews, document review, and visual observations, analyses these findings, creates a report, presents the report to the client, and distributes the report as per the client's instructions. In addition to that, the role of auditor also includes following up on the actions that the auditor has found in the audit. So these are the roles of auditors. So as we go further into this course, we will understand that when we talk of an auditor, the auditor could be a single person or a team of people doing audits. So, if you have a team of auditors, one person must be designated as the team leader, also known as the lead auditor or audit team leader, when it comes to the third party, which is the audit. The auditor is the one who is being audited. So the audit organisation needs to inform all the concerned parties that an audit will be conducted so that they can provide all the support that is needed for the audit. Audit also provides resources to the audit team or to the auditor. And this support could be in terms of providinginterview room, a place to sit, and any otherneeds related to communication and clarity and support. So these resources are provided by audit, and then audit could also provide an escort. If this is a big organization, then Auditory could provide an escort that will follow or guide the audit team where to go and how to go somewhere, and we'll appraise them about any safety requirements, etc. The responsibility of auditing alsoincludes showing objective evidence. So when the auditor asks for something, the audit is obliged to provide objective evidence for that. Audit needs to cooperate with the audit process, and once the report is issued and the findings are issued, it is the responsibility of the audit to determine and initiate corrective actions. And when I say corrective action, that means removing that problem and making sure that this problem doesn't repeat again. So here we talk about three important roles: client, auditor, and auditory. In addition to that, there are three more important roles in the audit process, which are listed here. A technical expert is the person who provides specific knowledge or expertise to the audit team. The audit team might not be expert in a particular process or a particular product. In that case, they might have a technical expert as a part of their team. The next important role here is the role of an observer. An observer is a person who accompanies the audit team but does not act as an auditor. So the role of the observer is just to observe the audit process and not interfere with the audit process.The next role here is the role of a guide. A guide is a person appointed by the auditing department to assist the audit team. The guide could help take the audit team from oneplace to another place in the organization, if the organizationis big, or any other support which the audit auditteam requires, that is provided by the guide. So these are six key roles in an audit process.

13. 1E1 Professional conduct and responsibilities

In Section One, which is Auditing Fundamentals, The last important topic is professional conduct and its consequences for auditors. In this topic, we will be looking at three of these subsections, which are professional conduct and responsibilities, legal consequences, and audit credibility. We will cover these threetopics in three different videos. So let's start with professional conduct and responsibilities. Here on this slide, I have fundamental principles issued by ASQ under the Course of Ethics. So in the course of ethics, there are certain fundamental principles which, as a CQA, or Certified Quality Auditors, you are obliged to follow. And these are the reasons that AST requires its representatives to be honest and transparent, avoid conflict of interest and plagiarism, do not harm others, treat them with respect, dignity, and fairness, be professional and socially responsible, and advance the role and perception of quality professionals. So these are the fundamental principles that, as certified quality auditors, you need to keep in mind and implement these.In addition to these fundamental principles, asQ also issues the Code of Ethics. And here I have listed the expectations of a quality professional. So what ASQ expects from you as quality professionals falls into three categories. The category one is act with integrity and Honesty. And category two is "demonstrate responsibility, respect, and fairness." And category three is safeguarding proprietary information and avoiding conflicts of interest. Let us take a quick look at what we mean when we say act with integrity and honesty. So as an auditor, you need to have integrity and maintain the dignity of quality professionals. As a quality auditor, you need to be truthful and transparent in all your interaction with other people. All your interactions and activities should show truthfulness and transparency. Whatever decisions you make, base them on objective evidence, facts, and not your own assumptions. And in addition to that, you should not be misleading others regarding your professional qualifications. And this professional qualification could even include a CQA-certified quality auditor. So, if you are not CQA Certified Quality Auditors certified by ASU, then you should not be representing yourself as CQA, and you should not misrepresent yourself. Another important thing is to offer your services and advice only in those areas where you have competence, expertise, and training. So these were some of the important things with regards to acting with integrity and honesty. Coming to the second section, which demonstrates responsibility, respect, and fairness, Here, one important thing is that the health, safety, and welfare of other individuals should be at the top of your mind. You should always be careful about the safety, health, and welfare of other individuals. You should not be doing anything that would harm or threaten the reputation for quality. You should always treat other people with fairness, courtesy, and dignity, without any discrimination. And when we talk about treating others with fairness and respect, then you should always respect the opinion of other people as well. Not everyone might have a similar opinion. So for example, if you are the auditteam leader and you are leading an auditteam, your other auditors might have a different opinion. You need to respect the opinion of other auditors as well. So this was about demonstrating responsibility, respect, and fairness as we come to the third category of the Code of Ethics, which is safeguarding proprietary information and avoiding conflicts of interest. Generally speaking, as an auditor, you will come across a lot of information that is proprietary to that particular organisation and therefore confidential. Make sure that you maintain the confidentiality of that information, knowingly or unknowingly. You should not be leaking that confidential information, and of course, you should not be using the confidential information of the organisations that you are auditing for your own personal gain because that will definitely be considered a fraud. Then, if you have any conflict of interest,that conflict of interest you should declare upfront. So, for example, if you are conducting an audit of an organisation in which you have a conflict of interest, say you know the management or the management belongs to your family, or whatever conflict of interest you have. This conflict of interest should be declared upfront to the client who has requested this audit. This is where I have a conflict of interest if I'm doing this audit. And another important thing is that you need to use the intellectual property of other parties with their permission only. Do not divulge any information that belongs to someone else. And if you are using someone else's information, then get proper approval for that. So these are some of the requirements related to the Code of Ethics. So make sure that you implement these requirements when you are auditing an organisation as a certified quality auditor. So, in addition to the Code of Ethics, there is another important aspect that you need to understand, and that is due diligence. Due diligence is the reasonable care that you are expected to take when you are entering a contract or agreement with the other party. You should always act with certain standards of care. So once you are acting as an auditor, you are expected to exercise due diligence with regards to confidentiality. So when you come across a number of documents that are confidential in nature, you make sure that you take due diligence or take reasonable care to make sure that the confidentiality of the documents that you are seeing is maintained. Knowingly or unknowingly, you are not expected to leak that information. So for that, you need to take reasonable care. In addition to that, you need to take reasonable care in regards to conflicts of interest. So we have talked about this earlier as well, that when you are doing an audit of an organisation where you have a conflict of interest, then you need to make sure that that conflict of interest is declared upfront to the client. Once you are doing an audit, you might come across something that is unsafe. If you see something unsafe, make sure that you report it immediately to concerned people and the concerned auditing organization so that necessary action can be taken, even though this might not be in the scope of your audit. The same thing applies for illegal activities as well. So if as an auditor, you observe anillegal activity, then you are obliged to informthat illegal activity appropriately to the management ofordinary organization, or in certain case, you mighteven need legal advice, but you cannot ignore. And this is the concept of due diligence: that as an auditor, even though this might or might not be in the scope of your audit, you still need to take due care in regards to these things that are listed here, such as illegal activities or unsafe conditions. So this was a brief introduction to professional conduct and responsibilities. The next topic about which we will be speaking is legal consequences. So there could be legalconsequences for auditor and auditing. Let's talk about that in the next video.

14. 1E2 Legal consequences

So, in this section, I've listed four major legal consequences that could occur in the event of an audit. The first one is that the auditor has failed to exercise due diligence and failed to identify critical issues. This is well understood: an audit is a sampling process. In the sampling process, you might come across something right or wrong, or you might miss that. This is well understood. Let's say that if there are a number of defectives in the production, the sample that you picked might be okay. And based on that, you might have made an assumption that everything is fine because the sample you picked was fine. So as long as you have taken due care to randomly select a sample, but the sample was okay, then this is fine because you could not find a potential problem. But if you totally exhort, you did not take any care about the selection of the samples. In that case, if there was a big problem, then there could be legal consequences because you did not use your due diligence and did not use your professional care when conducting the audit. The next potential legal consequence could be that an auditor knowingly issues a wrong report, and that could lead to legal consequences where certain facts were knowingly ignored or omitted. The auditor may have used the information gathered as part of the audit for financial gain as the next possible outcome. So as an auditor, you might have come across a problem where you would have seen that this company would have a lot of problems in the days to come. And if you use that information in the stock exchange to make a financial gain based on that, you may be engaging in an illegal act as an auditor, with legal ramifications. Another potential legal consequence is when, as an auditor, the person violates the confidentiality agreement. So when you audit, you have access to a lot of confidential information. And when you violate that confidentiality agreement by leaking this information or by sharing this information with a competitor or in whatever other way, then there could be legal consequences because of that as well.

15. 1E3 Audit credibility

So if you adhere to these seven principles, then whatever conclusions are coming from auditing will be reliable, credible, and repeatable. So if different auditors do audits, then all of these auditors will reach similar conclusions. So this is how these seven principles help make an audit credible. Now, let's look at these principles quickly, and then on the next seven slides we will talk about them in a little bit more detail. And among these seven principles are integrity, which is the foundation of professionalism and fair presentation. Here, the report or the audit report needs to be truthful and accurate. The third principle is due professional care. Here the auditor or the auditing team needs to takedue diligence to make any judgement in the auditing. Confidentiality has to be secured because the auditors have access to a lot of confidential information. So confidentiality needs to be maintained sothat the audit can comfortably share informationwith the auditor or the audit team. Audit needs to be independent, needs to be impartial,unbiased, and this has to be evidence based orthe fact based rather than the opinion based. So whatever conclusion we are drawing in the audit needs to be based on certain facts. And in auditing, we take a risk-based approach, because wherever there is more risk, you put more emphasis on those areas and do more auditing on those areas where there are higher risks. So these are seven principles that we have broadly covered here on this slide. Now, let's start with each of these in the next seven slides, starting with integrity. So, now I'm coming to the first principle here, which is integrity. Integrity is the foundation of professionalism. So whatever the audit team is doing needs to be done professionally. And when I say professionally, that means it has to be done ethically without any external influence, honestly, and only in those areas where the audit team is competent. So that way, the audit will be fair and unbiased and will not have any external influence on the audit.So this was about integrity, which was principle number one. So coming to the second principle, which is fair presentation, Here, in fair presentation, whenever the audit is done, the audit team or the auditor will present a report. That report needs to be truthful and accurate; it should state the facts, and it should be a fair representation of whatever was observed in the audit. So this was the second principle of auditing, which is fair presentation. So, coming to the third principle, which is due professional care, So what this principle says is that the auditor should exercise due care when they are doing an audit, so they should not be ignoring certain areas, and they should be doing whatever best could be done in that specified time. So due care needs to be taken by the audit team. So this is the third principle for auditing. The fourth principle is confidentiality. "Confidentiality" is the security of information. As a part of auditing, auditors have access to lots of confidential information. An auditor needs to make sure that they take due care to maintain the confidentiality of information. This could be intentional to gain some financial benefit from the information. So it is not acceptable that the auditor uses confidential information for personal gain. So this was one part where the auditor could use the confidential information for their personal gain. But, in addition, the auditteam must ensure that they do not harm the organisation by handling this confidential information carelessly. So intentionally or unintentionally, the confidentiality of the information should not be lost. So they need to handlethe confidential information properly. This is principle number four for auditing, coming to the fifth principle, which is independence. So, wherever possible, auditors should be independent of the activity being audited, because in some small organizations, having an auditor who is independent of the work being performed may not be possible. But wherever possible, they should be maintained so that the audit is free from bias or conflict of interest. And in addition to the auditor being independent from the work being performed, the auditor should also maintain objectivity during the audit. And this objectivity ensures that the findings or conclusions of the audit results are only based on whatever was seen or observed during the audit or based on the audit evidence. So this is the fifth principle: independence and the objectivity of audit. Let's quickly look at the definition of independence and objectivity here. So, these are two definitions that I have taken from the IIA Institute of Internal Auditors. Let's look at the first definition, which is the definition of independence. So, independence is freedom from conditions that threaten the ability of the internal audit activity to carry out internal audit responsibilities in an unbiased manner. So independence is basically related to unbiased work. So now let's look at the second definition, which is of objectivity. Objectivity is an unbiased mental attitude that allows internal auditors to perform engagements in such a manner that they believe in their work product and that no quality compromises are made. So that is objectivity. So the audit needs to maintain independence and be done objectively, bringing us to the 6th principle, which is evidence-based auditing. So, audits need to be based on evidence. In an audit, what you do as an auditor is look at certain samples; you take samples, you observe them, and based on that observation, you make your conclusion. So whatever samples you are taking, you need to record those sample references because whatever evidence you have seen, you need to keep a record of that so that this audit is verifiable. So, if someone wants to look at that particular sample tomorrow, you've already given a reference to it, so someone can verify it. So this is the sixth principle of auditing. That audit needs to be evidence-based, coming to the 7th and last principle of auditing, which is a risk-based approach. Now, there are so many areas, there are so many functions, and there are so many products you can audit. But auditing needs to be based on the risk associated with that particular process, that particular activity, or that particular product. So you need to consider risk and opportunities when you are doing an audit. You need to spend more time on those areas that have a higher risk or greater opportunity compared to other areas. So these are the seven principles. So if these seven principles are implemented, then the audit will be credible, and organisations can take actions based on those audit observations. So let's recap those seven principles once again here. These seven principles for auditing are integrity, fairness, presentation, due diligence, professional care, confidentiality, independence, an evidence-based approach, and a risk-based approach. So, if these seven principles are implemented, then the audit will be effective and reliable. The information that will come out of the audits can be used by organisations to take actions, improve their performance, or ensure that they comply with specified rules or requirements.

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