Some On-the-job Training Particulars

Jeff was assigned at the last minute to be my assistant on a large audit. He was new, lacked some basic skills and had no orientation training. Most importantly, he couldn’t operate a ten-key adder by touch! I learned this about Jeff when I observed him adding several columns on hard-copy documents, one key at a time! Since I couldn’t get a replacement, Jeff’s on-the-job training (OJT) to correct his lack of basic skills became my budget overrun!

Engagement benefits from proper OJT are both short and long-range. For the short range, engagements get completed with fewer mistakes, require fewer review notes and make higher profits. In the long-range, a firm’s staff personnel are stronger technically and are able to perform and complete engagements in less time. This means increased firm profitability! Here are some particulars:

Pre-engagement OJT activities:

On-the-job training begins with the assignment of staff personnel to the engagement. The staff person's capabilities should first be considered in relation to the size, complexity and anticipated work assignments of the engagement. Once assigned to the engagement, the staff person should be utilized to take best advantage of previous work experience and, at the same time, to allow opportunities for working in areas new to the staff person. A pre-engagement meeting should be held to familiarize staff persons with the client and with their audit responsibilities.

OJT During the Engagement:

Proper supervision, including on-the-job training, should include at least the following considerations:
• Helping the assistant design procedures to resolve engagement problems early.
• Making sure the assistant thoroughly understands the objectives and procedures of an assignment before beginning.
• Helping the assistant to prioritize, organize, and control the approach to assigned work areas.
• Periodically checking on the assistant's progress.
• Keeping the assistant informed of other engagement matters affecting the assigned work area.
• Rotating work assignments and offering the assistant opportunities to work in new areas.
• Motivating the assistant to maximum performance levels and to foster good client relationships.
• Appraising staff performance.

Post-engagement OJT Activities:

Thorough discussions of performance, immediately after completion of the engagement, will maximize the benefits of staff assistants' on-the-job training experience.To provide staff personnel with the experiences of engagement wrap-up, a post-engagement conference should be held to review the final draft of the report, financial statements and the internal control communication letter and to discuss engagement problems encountered and their final disposition.

From start to finish, an audit engagement provides the training opportunities for developing an outstanding staff resource base. Good OJT is the foundation for making more money on audits!

This blog

by Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC - Larry has over 40 years experience as a CPA practitioner, author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs.  He is co-founder of CPA Firm Support Services, LLC (www.cpafirmsupport.com), an organization providing resources, training and consulting to smaller CPA firms.  Larry writes a weekly blog on AccountingWEB.com focusing on small audits, reviews and compilations.  He is currently developing documentation manuals and handbooks for small audits, reviews and compilations and related electronic practice aids.

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