The health and wellbeing of our clients, the community and our people is our number one priority during these difficult times. We are working with our clients and partners on how we can best tackle these challenges together over the coming months.

A lot of the value in our audit work comes from the face-to-face engagement we have with our clients—whether it’s working at their offices, or via meetings and briefings. As this in-person engagement decreases, we’ll use QAO’s ICT systems to work remotely and continue collaborating. We’re talking to our clients at the individual level on how we can best use our tools.

Virtual meetings

We’re using Microsoft Teams for video or teleconferences and online conversations with our clients. Clients do not need to have Teams installed to use it (a simple weblink is provided for meetings). If our clients prefer, they can also access the same meetings via Skype. And of course, we continue to communicate via telephone calls and emails.

Microsoft Teams is essentially a hub for teamwork. QAO has been using it for a while now, for example, to live stream our events to more remotely located clients. We have also been using it effectively to share information amongst our staff and work on documents collaboratively. It gives QAO a sound control framework for managing our work and directing and supervising our staff.

It has been good to onboard more of our clients on to Teams and to upgrade our own skills. We’re now using some of the more advanced Teams features, such as background blur, in-meeting annotation and white-boarding.

SharePoint Online

QAO has also developed a platform that allows us to securely collaborate with our clients and partners. It leverages several Microsoft cloud technologies, including SharePoint Online and Azure Active Directory B2B, and multifactor authentication for security. Nearly 100 of our clients are using the platform with us.

Via SharePoint Online, we can give our clients an electronic way to submit their financial statements. We can allow our auditors and clients to exchange—and work on—documents together. And we can create externally facing portals for specific projects. Entities are reminded to apply due diligence when choosing their collaboration platforms, making sure they are secure and reliable.

We will miss seeing our clients and stakeholders in-person; however, we are well positioned to keep talking to them. Though we are fully operational, we continue to follow the advice of Queensland Health and review our practices daily. We will be in touch with our client groups, and with individual clients, as COVID-19 continues to affect them.

Keep an eye out for our blog posts coming soon on the financial reporting risks that result from uncertain economic conditions.

Any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your QAO engagement leader anytime or email