Bilfinger Industrial Workers
ComplianceTax & AccountingTháng Năm 12, 2021

Bilfinger SE & TeamMate+ Audit

Forward planning, a clear view of the data and consistent follow-up procedures have helped the auditors at Bilfinger SE to establish the strong rapport with management they need to add real value to the business. They explain why this is the basis for future innovation.


Constructive relationships

Communication and partnership are as important as traditional audit skills to the eight internal auditors who comprise the Corporate Function – Books and Records Audit team at Bilfinger SE. They see the rapport they build with the operational functions and management throughout the business as vital to their ability to identify the key risks they face now, and will face in the future, and to help them work together to mitigate these.

“Internal auditors need communication and other soft skills if they are to establish a rapport with stakeholders at all levels – functional and organisational,” explains Brandon Wright, who heads the team. “You need these skills when gathering information and deciding which risk areas to audit if people are to be honest with you and open up so that you both gain the most from the audit experience.”

Bilfinger SE is a global industrial services provider based in Mannheim, Germany. It has a long history in engineering and now engages in projects around the world, particularly in Europe, North America and the Middle East. Its ~ 30,000 employees work with customers in sectors that include chemicals and petrochemicals, energy and utilities, oil and gas, pharma and biopharma, metallurgy and cement, so the risks they encounter are varied and significant.

Wright’s team is responsible for performing onsite risk assessments and identifying control and process weaknesses to provide assurance to senior management on the status of risks. However, he is clear that his role is also to find and share best practice globally. “We look for successes as much as for failures so we can add value to the whole organisation,” he says.
Our audit software system is very important to us because it keeps our department and our work organised,
Two-way conversations

An important part of this is maintaining an ongoing dialogue with multiple corporate functions and learning what keeps their managers awake at night. “I ask the finance directors and the department managers what I should be looking at, so we come to them as a partner, rather than as a controlling function,” he explains. “It’s vital we gather as much information as we can so we understand their processes well. If we understand what they’re doing, they will take our recommendations seriously because they see us as a partner who will help them to move forward.”

However, providing this kind of deep understanding and business rapport across different sectors and geographical locations with a small team requires strong, consistent audit processes, the ability to store, retrieve and compare information and the tools to communicate findings effectively back to managers.

Bilfinger’s audit team adopted TeamMate AM several years ago and found it useful for documenting audits and issuing reports and follow-up actions. The team transitioned to TeamMate+ last year and Wright says that the new system improves these functions, while adding additional features that help them to track report outcomes and actions more efficiently and collaboratively. In particular, he says that the fact it is now web-based has made it easier to use.

“Our audit software system is very important to us because it keeps our department and our work organised,” he says. “The fact that it maintains itself and that we can update and modify it ourselves was an important element for us and is a key reason why we use it.”

New features are also enabling them to develop and innovate their audit processes to make them more interactive and to strengthen further their relationships within the business. Wright’s colleague Karin Jebsen explains that she recently began to use the survey tool to find out more about particular risks and needs in different parts of the organisation while planning an audit. “Before we go onsite we prepare 50-60 questions and send a request to each business partner within the scope of the audit. Their answers help us to dive deeper into risks when we do the full audit,” she says.

Another feature that is popular with both auditors and management is the ability to upload and store reports and to enable managers to access their own data and record their progress against findings. “We consider communication with stakeholders extremely important for good audit performance,” Jebsen says. “Strong communication increases our efficiency and leads to more effective audit processes and better results.”

Managers have told her that they find the reporting and issue-tracking tools accessible and easy to use with little training. In turn, she appreciates the automatic notifications that mean she no longer has to prompt managers to resolve findings or contact them to ask about progress.
In any large organisation you have to stay on top of things or you get left behind. TeamMate+ provides standardised documentation and follow-up processes that we need to stay on schedule and provide consistently clear and to-the-point reports that are valued by our stakeholders,
Continuous innovation

Good software does not make a good internal audit team, but good internal auditors look to the future and must continue to innovate – and automated systems are an important base for this. In future, Wright believes that his team will add further value to their organisation by using technology to look deeper into the data, speed up collaborative processes and cover more risk areas. “It’s important to evolve and this will mean using more data analytics and online platforms and utilising data mining and process mining,” he explains.

Covid-19 put the audit team’s initiative and capabilities to the test. Their tight schedule spanned locations around the world and to stay on track they had to monitor the pandemic in different regions continuously and work out how local restrictions affected their ability to conduct audits in each one.

“We started planning our audits months in advance, rather than our usual six to eight weeks, and had to co-ordinate our activities early so that we were confident we could do the audit remotely if necessary,” Wright says. “We also discussed local constraints on entities and what new risks they were facing.”

Remote auditing proved more achievable than he had anticipated, and this kept the audit plan on schedule. He believes it would not have been possible without a consistent approach to audit processes and structure, documentation, data storage and reporting.

“In 2020 audit management software is essential – you won’t be able to manage risk effectively across the board, or have the consistent documentation that management requires without it,” Wright says. “Our audit report is our business card. Management values the internal audit team because we provide solid results in key risk areas, identify new risks and offer structured findings that help them to manage these effectively.”

It is only by providing this kind of service that you can establish the strong rapport that you need to perform the job, he adds. It creates a virtuous circle – good communications and productive relationships help internal auditors to gather the intelligence they need to provide recommendations that add real value at all levels of the organisation, so creating a positive relationship and trust.

“In any large organisation you have to stay on top of things or you get left behind. TeamMate+ provides standardised documentation and follow-up processes that we need to stay on schedule and provide consistently clear and to-the-point reports that are valued by our stakeholders,” Wright says. “We have established a strong rapport with the board because we provide structured consistent reports and our relationship with TeamMate+ enables us to do this.”
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