Nov 04, 2019

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Small-Firm Audits

William HayesBy William J. Hayes, managing editor, Pennsylvania CPA Journal

At the PICPA Accounting & Auditing Conference on Dec. 12, Samantha A. Bowling, CPA, CGMA, of Garbelman Winslow CPAs in Upper Marlboro, Md., provided a small-firm perspective on the use of artificial intelligence in auditing. A veteran of an implementation of artificial intelligence at her own firm, she detailed the nuts and bolts on how the technology works while also discussing success points and trouble spots she confronted while leading the process. I recently spoke with Bowling about her session.

How is artificial intelligence going to affect work processes for auditing and accounting practices?

Samantha Bowling, CPA, CGMAArtificial intelligence with respect to accounting services automates bookkeeping and dramatically decreases the time required for these services, elevating our staff to a higher level of service. Artificial intelligence will allow auditors to use risk that is assessed at the transaction level to design the audit in the planning and risk-assessment phase and will allow for targeted sampling/testing based on the riskiest transactions. It will also allow for continuous auditing and a more timely reporting of results.

Is implementation of an artificial intelligence program manageable for small firms with limited staff?

Yes. We have 16 employees in our office and four people in our audit department. We had no issues with respect to cost or the learning curve with this technology.

When you implemented artificial intelligence within your firm, was there anything that you thought would be difficult that ended up being easier than imagined, or anything you anticipated as easy that ended up being more complicated?

I thought there would be a lot of time spent on learning and struggling through the new software. To overcome this, I had my millennials work with the data ingestion/mapping and my seasonal employees analyze the results. To my surprise, there has been a sharing of knowledge between the two. In the beginning, I thought the data ingestion/mapping would be easier, but it was time consuming. The software is changing so quickly, though, that something that took two weeks in the beginning now takes less than five minutes.

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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.