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Auditing service providers: Supporting auditors in cross-organizational settings

: Bachlechner, Daniel; Thalmann, Stefan; Manhart, Markus


Managerial auditing journal 29 (2014), Nr.4, S.286-303
ISSN: 0268-6902
Fraunhofer ISI ()
external auditor; information needs; IT audit; Service provider; software support

The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the particular information needs of external auditors performing information technology (IT) audits at service providers in cross-organizational settings and to promote a software-based approach towards their satisfaction. The approach is intended to supplement the manual approaches currently adopted by auditors to procure information in such settings. The authors analyzed data collected by means of a series of 16 interviews and four think-aloud sessions with experienced professionals. Information procurement is perceived as tedious by auditors and largely relies on repeat interviews and perusal of documents. Given the growing complexity of cross-organizational settings, manual approaches to information procurement are reaching their limits. A considerable portion of the information required is often stored by service providers using software that is inaccessible to auditors. The authors argue that a software-based approach providing an interface for auditors to access relevant information held by such software presents an avenue worth exploring. The authors outline how the information stored by service providers using software can be made accessible with reasonable effort. Complementing manual approaches to information procurement with an audit interface would reduce workload and increase quality. The concept of an audit interface represents a novel and promising approach to meeting the information needs of auditors performing IT audits in cross-organizational settings more effectively. Both auditors and service providers would benefit from its implementation.