Let’s face it - audit is perceived as a pain. It’s a pain for clients because they see it as unnecessary work, and even more painful for the auditors working on very tight timelines to deliver a good report. Managing stakeholders in such a condition becomes doubly challenging, even when a good audit benefits companies.
Based on our research and interviews with stakeholders during the hackathon, we realise that many of the complex problems faced by auditors during the audit process is exacerbated by a lack of collaboration from clients, and facilitating tasks from clients and auditors would help to ease the audit process.
How do we build a platform to streamline audit process by facilitating effective and time efficient client-auditor interactions, and building functions that makes accounting easier for all key stakeholders to help them be audit ready all year round? In this process, we see an opportunity to tackle Challenge 3, 5 (and potentially 7) while vastly improving the audit experience for both clients and auditors alike.
Some key considerations for:
CLIENTS: Involve more relevant stakeholders in the day to day processes in audit preparation - helping to ensure audit readiness all year round. Encourage proper documentation and filing of paperwork for audit (invoices, POs, contracts, meeting minutes etc) Estimate cost of audit for clients and facilitate job matching between companies and auditing firms?
AUDITORS: Allow quick task allocation and gathering of information from clients based on documentation on platform. Collaborate more effectively with client in the entire process from planning to report issuance. Audit report templates that allows easy population of audit issues & management responses.
BOTH: Provide visualisations and interactive views of client’s financial statements and documentation.
Introducing Our Solution
Make auditing a breeze. Konto is a collaborative accounting and auditing platform that facilitates audit process between clients and auditors while doubling up as a accounting tool for clients.
What does Konto do
Konto provides the following functions:
Visualisation of financial statement Konto provides a dashboard view of financial statements to key stakeholders within a company, and the same access can be given to auditors during audit. From the dashboard, users can click through the check on each individual item within the general ledger, right down to the invoice level. The search bar and easy to use dashboards will help all users find the relevant information quickly, without having to handle multiple platforms, file sharing tools or document formats.
Repository of business documents Ala sharepoints for companies, Konto's workflows requires all business units to upload all documentation related to transactions once a transaction is created (PO, DO, Invoices etc). Users will fill in a simple guided form during upload to standardise file naming conventions when records are created in the repository. In addition, the repository allows for appointed secretariats to upload meeting minutes of management meetings, as well as business SOPs required for audit purposes.
Audit workload estimation and project matching Through the seamless workflow, Konto would be able to provide an estimated number of man hours needed to audit the company's account for the financial year. Participating auditors which are onboarded onto the platform would also be able to provide an inventory of their available resources, rates and other information. Our algorithm would be able to match auditors and companies based on perimeters such as rates, area of expertises and ratings etc and provide recommended auditors, as well as optimal time period for audits. In this way, companies can also be encouraged to have their accounts audited during off-peak periods (we could also introduce dynamic pricing to facilitate that).
Simple workflows for fieldwork, draft report issuance and management responses gathering
How we built it
Back End: Konto's HTTP backend is written in Python and powered by the Tornado web app framework, chosen for its ease of use, scalability and concurrent user support. It runs continuously on Pythonanywhere.com and is pre-filled with dummy financial statement data in JSON format. These data can be accessed by the web app front end via simple GET requests.
Challenges we ran into
We only have 1 team member with some exposure to the audit processes, but audit is a complex process with many causes for variance. Given the short timeline, it was a steep learning curve as we concurrently did research, user interviews and developed our prototype simultaneously. On top of that, our research and interviews also gave us a set of insights that required solutions which extended beyond the challenge statements, so it was a lot of back and forth in our brainstorming process before we arrive at the current solution.
In the development of our solution, our team also spent a significant amount of time debugging HTTP requests.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
From deep diving into the world of auditing to coming up with a viable solution that tackles industry's pain points, we are proud to have gone through this accelerated learning process and be able to digest the knowledge that we have been imparted. On top of that, we are very grateful to be able to connect the dots amongst the challenge statements, identify key stakeholders and reimagine user journeys and workflows to enhance the audit experience.
What we learned
All of us went from having zero/limited audit knowledge to having sufficient knowledge in coming up with our proposed solution. Through this process, we have learnt the difficulties faced by auditors in performing their tasks, as well as the importance of collaborative working. While there is a lot of interest in automation and using deep tech to develop solutions to ease the work load of auditors, we believe that another way of solving the problem is to design solutions that helps clients be further involved in the audit process.
What's next for Konto
We are hard at work trying to build the prototype and some of the functions are ready - this is an ambitious endeavour and we hope to deliver a viable MVP with more key user journeys if we are selected!