Audit trails are essential to running a successful organisation. They help you keep on track of security, administration, governance and compliance. If anything goes wrong, the audit trail is the first place you should look to find answers.
As a result, it’s important to make sure your audit trails are of the highest quality. While cutting corners may seem possible at first, it will come back to haunt you in the event of a data breach or misconduct.
Get your audit trails right the first time by following these handy tips:
First and foremost, your audit trail should be designed for clarity. Only include the essentials and make sure they are presented in a clear, effective manner.
Technology has made this process far easier. Back in the day, you had to hand-write pages of documents, which made consistency a real challenge. Now, it only takes a few clicks to generate a report.
However, even with technology, there is a range of software available and not all of it will be to the same standard. Make sure the software you select formats the data in a professional way.
One way to assess the clarity of the software is through customer feedback. When it comes to meetings, make sure clients highlight the ability to clearly download and view each document.
Double-Check The Details
Digital minutes can save time and energy but they still need to be reviewed. Sometimes, there are avoidable errors that could have been fixed with a brief overview. This is unprofessional and can become problematic in the event of a breach.
One clear example of this is timestamps. If your system clocks are not synchronised to the minute, there may be time variations. This type of error is not the ‘fault’ of the system but can have major implications down the line.
There are many other errors that can get in the way of clarity and accuracy. Spelling and grammar, duplicate data sets and many other issues can be cleared up with a simple review. Don’t leave it to chance and double-check your audit trail regularly.
Backup Your Data
Backing up your data is absolutely crucial when it comes to audit trails. This is your record of compliance and without it you put your company at risk.
Make sure you backup your audit trail through a trusted source. This can either be through cloud-hosting software (such as AWS storage) or at a remote location.
Ideally, any software you use should do daily automatic backups. This can also help ensure obsolete data is not kept around, which will make it easier to keep track of documents.
A core advantage of digital auditing is the security. Paper documents have never been secure as they can be read by anyone. The digital age offers a new chance to protect your audit trail from risk of breach.
As talked about above, the importance of maintaining audit integrity should not be undermined. There is no point having a perfectly clear audit trail if anyone in the company can edit it at will.
The system you use should have a permission-based system to ensure data integrity. It would also be useful to have detailed usage reports so you can see historic changes.
Prioritising security also involves liaising with any data processors you use to ensure they are maintaining standards. Any company you work with should have CMMI Level 5 Accreditation. They should employ software with 256-bit encryption which is the highest level of security available.
How Can Convene Support You In Creating An Effective Audit Trail?
Audit trails are a key part of your governance process so it’s essential they are consistent and effective. If you follow these tips, you'll be well on your way to creating a good quality audit trail.
Digital audit trails are the most effective type of audit trail.
A Board Portal like Convene can support your organisation in creating an effective audit trail. The comprehensive software was conceived to streamline communication and improve your administrative processes. From the agenda to the audit, you can make sure your team is all on the same page.