The term audit checklist is used to describe a document that is created during the audit planning stage. This document is essentially a list of the tasks that must be completed as part of the audit. Most auditing software programs have a list of standard audit checklist templates that can be used for different types of audits. This document is created and managed by the senior auditor, who is responsible for the overall audit.
There are five sections to every audit checklist: scope, evidence collection, audit tests, analysis of results and conclusion. These sections are fairly static and are used for audits ranging from financial to safety. The process used to populate the actual tasks included in each section varies, based upon the audit scope, the tools used to manage the audit and the experience of the audit staff.
The scope section of the checklist includes the initial meeting with the client, identification of known issues, focus of audit, overall time line and required outcome. In some audits, resource allocation is completed at this stage of the checklist. This might be necessary in a large accounting firm in order to schedule staff availability and to assign work.
Evidence collection is further divided into each individual section or module that is being audited. In a financial audit, this might include accounts payable, banking, accounts receivable and inventory. In a safety audit, this might include fire preparedness, emergency exits, evacuation procedures and first aid. The methods used to gather the evidence are not listed in the checklist, but must be included in each individual section.
Audit tests include a list of all the same sections from the evidence collection area but with a list of the different tests to be performed. The tests are selected based on the audit scope, risk assessment and industry standards. The audit checklist itself is included in the audit file and typically will be reviewed by a senior partner for completeness.
The results from the evidence and audit tests are organized by section, and the audit checklist is updated once the documentation is provided to the senior auditor. He or she reviews the documentation provided and notes any issues or concerns on the checklist. These items must be addressed before the end of the audit.
The conclusion of any audit is the issuing of the audit opinion. In this report, the methods used are described, along with the results and conclusions. Depending on the type of audience, the entire audit binder might be presented to the client for review. The audit checklist is provided in the first section, just like a table of contents, and lists all the items included in the binder and their location.