A cell phone is an auditor’s Swiss knife. And with all the options, I am constantly looking for another way to use mine. So I’m sharing my ideas with the hope that you will likewise share yours. While I use an iPhone, I realize there are plenty of other nifty cell phones; my comments below are directed not at a particular phone but how I use mine as an auditor.
Below you will see a screenshot of my cell phone home screen and then information concerning how I use various apps.
I use this iPhone app to capture pictures of documents as I perform internal control walkthroughs. I embed these pictures in my walkthrough documentation. A picture says a thousand words. If the person explaining the accounting system creates pictures on a whiteboard, I take pictures of the drawings.
Sometimes I need a copy of a page from a hardback book (e.g., research); rather than using the copy machine, I take a picture of the page and email it.
Keynote is Apple’s version of Powerpoint. I build the Keynote slide deck for presentations and use my phone to present. If you use iCloud, the slide deck you build on your iPad will automatically appear on your iPhone (if your settings are right).
You can also present a Keynote slide deck using your iPad as the presentation device and your iPhone as a remote. Your iPhone moves the slides of the iPad slide deck as you stand at a distance. Both devices (iPad and iPhone) must be on the same wifi for the remote feature to work.
I buy most of my books using the one-click option in Amazon. Most books are 50% less in price (or more) than physical books. You can highlight books you read and then create a summary of those highlights (which I then place in my searchable Evernote account–see below); you can copy and paste these highlights to Word or other software.
I love Evernote! It is my personal cloud storage, and at $70 per year for the premium version, it provides me with tremendous power. All the research I have performed and stored is available everywhere I go. All the articles I have stored are at my fingertips. (And it is so easy to store information in this application.) At present, I have thousands of screenshots, websites, articles, presentations, conversations, books, pictures, and answered research issues. It’s my personal knowledge library.
You can use this app to record conversations that are automatically loaded into Evernote.
I also use Dropbox to store some documents. There are many apps that connect well with this cloud storage space. I find Dropbox somewhat easier to use than Evernote since it has fewer features. I like the simplicity.
I store all my passwords in 1Password. No more wondering how I’m going to get into my own computer with a password I’ve forgotten–again (I know this never happens to you).
I text my audit team members to see how things are going. Messaging is much more efficient than calling if the communication is short. (You can also take a picture of anything with Camera and message the picture. If your audit team member needs to see something on your computer screen, take a picture of it and message the shot to them with comments.)
Don’t want to type the message? Just say it out loud and the app will record your words for sending.
I use Google maps to get to new audit locations.
I use the Weather Channel’s app to check the weather before I leave for trips so I can dress appropriately.
Mozart or U2 makes my audit day go by much better. If you prefer music without ads, you can pay Pandora $3.99 a month. I love the variety.
Sharefile is my go-to app for sending sensitive client data. With hackers everywhere, I don’t risk sending sensitive client data in emails.
Looking for a nice easy-to-use calculator. I recommend Digits. You can add numbers, make notations beside particular numbers, and email the calculator tape with a couple of clicks.
My Fantastical calendar app syncs with my Outlook calendar, so regardless of where I am, I can check my appointments and schedule the same. I can also add reminders in Fantastical, so I don’t forget the milk.
Do I keep a to-do list? Yes, in my ToDoist app. This app integrates with Outlook.
When I am driving I listen to books using Audible. If you’re on the road a lot, this is a great way to redeem your time.
I read the Wall Street Journal to keep abreast of current events. This WSJ app provides me access to one of the best newspapers in America (and there aren’t many these days).
While not an app, I push the button on my iPhone and Siri asks me what I want to do. This is how I make phone calls by simply saying, “call my wife,” for example. I also send texts (or emails) the same way by saying “send text to C.S. Lewis”; then I tell Siri what I want to say–works amazingly well; she even understands my southern accent (and that, my friends, is truly amazing).
How do you use your cell phone at work? I would love to hear from you.
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Charles Hall is a practicing CPA and Certified Fraud Examiner. For the last thirty years, he has primarily audited governments, nonprofits, and small businesses. He is the author of The Little Book of Local Government Fraud Prevention and Preparation of Financial Statements & Compilation Engagements. He frequently speaks at continuing education events. Charles is the quality control partner for McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co. where he provides daily audit and accounting assistance to over 65 CPAs. In addition, he consults with other CPA firms, assisting them with auditing and accounting issues.
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