How Finance Can Partner with Program for Audit Success | npENGAGE

How Finance Can Partner with Program for Audit Success

By on Jun 1, 2017 | NONPROFIT-MANAGEMENT

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Jigsaw puzzle pieces coming together to signify finance and program partnership for an audit

Does a dark cloud hang over your office when the auditor arrives? If you answered ‘yes,’ you’re not alone. Can you imagine looking forward to an audit? After all, it is an opportunity to shine the light on the great work you do all year, but much of the time, with the budget constraints and tight staffing we experience, it can become more like an event to survive.

Most of us do a good job with the basics. Our monthly close runs well. We have open items, but we know what they are, and we make a point to get to them—if they are material. So then, why is an audit so much work?

Why are staff running around pulling invoices and checks out of drawers to match against a list of selected invoices? We hold our breath and frantically review the invoices and checks to make sure they’ll “work” before we give them to the auditor. Does this sound familiar?

If this is the case, we may be treating the audit and the compliance requirements it tests as a hurdle to get past so we can get back to our “real jobs.” And we may not have fully tapped into the potential for our partners in Program to lift the monkey off our backs; after all, they’re on the front-end of most transactions.

Partner with Program. Finance is a service department, but we are also the guardian of regulated and limited funds. Given our expertise, it makes sense for Finance to lead the initiative for a successful partnership with Program. Together, we can ensure that resources are available to meet and exceed program goals. If Program understands that our primary objective is to ensure that our programs are here for generations to come, then they may come to appreciate our cautiousness.

Commit to an open and ongoing dialogue, and assume the best. At the end of the day, most of us share one overarching goal: to meet and exceed program objectives within the available resources.

You may ask, “How does that relate to the audit?” Well, we need to get the monkey off our back for targeting risks and measuring performance and compliance and make it a shared responsibility. Otherwise, it’s like dragging a mule up a hill in the hot sun.

And quit insisting on doing everything the hard way. After all, how can we make a fair ask of Program to meet these tough compliance requirements, if we don’t provide tools that simplify the process?

Want to learn more about preparing for a successful audit? Register for our June 14th webinar, Preparing for a Successful Audit: A Conversation between Auditor and Auditee.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kathy Finnell, CPA, has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit leadership roles and has a wealth of knowledge and experience working with federal and state grants. Kathy holds a master’s degree in accounting and studied process management at the Harvard Extension School. Kathy is also a mentor, volunteer board member, and speaks to nonprofit boards on a wide range of topics, including audits, compliance, and administrative expense. She brings her passion for accounting and business processes to her role at Blackbaud as a financial solutions account executive.

Comments (2)

  • Cassandra says:

    I agree 100% agree that successfully preparing for an audit as well as developing a seamless quality assurance process it is important for finance and program to work together. Targeting risk and measuring performance and compliance is a shared responsibility. Compliance often falls into the finance department when programs should take equal responsibility.

    In the Organization I work for, the fiscal side is still very much in development. Often roles are confused often. It would be much more productive to have these roles further defined. We (program) would love more tools from our fiscal side.

    • Kathy Finnell says:

      Thank you for your well thought out comment. Good quality assurance and a good audit are like a marriage. It takes both sides. In most organizations I see one side of the house develop faster than the other. It becomes almost like “cat” and “mouse”. Most of us don’t have the resources we need so we find ourselves taking turns. The trick is to not let one side fall so far behind that they are holding the organization back. Best of luck in getting tools to make your process faster, more reliable and to harness your data.

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