A cow in Willesden

Public psychotherapy for a veteran auditor

Monthly Archives: July 2011

How to write an Audit Report – an holistic guide

In my experience, guides on how to write audit reports tend to be idealistic, often ignoring signifcant external factors. I have prepared the notes below with this in mind, and attempted to step back from the detail to provide a(n) holistic view rather than literal. Some readers might find it more useful, but I appreciate that for those of you who are not in a state of karmic balance, this guide might overlook some of the more mundane but necessary steps. Those people might consider this an addition to, rather than replacement of, the traditional process description

It is dawn. Your mind has an acorn within it. The acorn is made up of swirling thoughts about the audit you’ve just completed, tentative conclusions, potential issues, and gut feelings about the people you’ve dealt with and the processes you’ve reviewed. The acorn is tiny and inert. You must nurture it and protect it, give it good soil to grow in, feed it with your calm contemplation, and water it with the raindrops of your passion and dedication.

It is late morning, you are weary from your labours. Your acorn has become a sapling. It has developed structure; the branches shoot off in all directions from the trunk, as the many issues you have raised relate to the central conclusion. But it is small and easily bent; it is not yet a tree; it is a representation of a tree in miniature. You must make a choice now whether to develop this perfection in a small accessible form, to make it a concise representation of everything you want to communicate. You have an option to keep it in a small pot or tray on your window sill, to nourish it, but to restrict the root system so that it becomes a perfect scale model of a mighty tree, with all the features, the leaves and branches, the majesty and the beauty. Or you can plant it in the open, and cover it with manure, encouraging it to become an epic, mammoth tree.

If you choose to develop your sampling in the bonsai style, your manager makes you take it to the park and cover it with manure anyway.

Noon arrives. The sun is high, bringing light and warmth to the land. Your sapling has thrived in the open space, it has sucked the nutrients from the manure and made itself big and strong. It has become a towering oak, a monument to your audit, an immovable object, threatening to bring to a dead halt all the unstoppable projectiles of excuses and objections. It is beautiful and proud; it dominates the skyline and casts a shadow on all below it. It is a beacon proclaiming your achievement, and you relax in its shade, admiring the awesome wonder of creation.

At peace, the afternoon passes slowly. You open the park gates and invite passers-by to behold your oak, a tree that will stand for a thousand years. These passers-by wear collars. They sniff your tree and they pant with excitement, they wag their tails. They do what comes naturally, and they mark the tree as their own. You feel honoured that they care and want to share in your work. They each do this in turn, sometimes going back and forth several times, sometimes around in circles like a Spring dance. They call their friends to do the same. Every dog in the pack must mark its territory at this sacred site. And as every action has a reaction, so your tree begins to change.

It is quiet, you are again alone in the park in the quiet evening. You look at your tree. It saddens you to see it so distressed. Its branches have been trimmed and chopped, stripped bare of its leaves – the canopy of cover is no more, only patches of shade remain. The bark is peppered with graffiti, where members of the pack have carved their initials in love hearts. The carving has cut through the bark and sap is leaking through. The earth has been disturbed around it, and the roots are exposed and damaged.

It is night. The Big Dog comes, the final encounter. You hide, frightened and confused. Terrible howls resound through the sky like a thunder storm, and then silence.

As sunrise breaks, you return to the place your tree once stood. Your tree has been ground up into pulp and made into chipboard. The chipboard has been covered in mahogany-effect laminate, and made into a sideboard and coffee table. You dismantle it into a flat pack and deliver it to the customer. You get drunk and you cry.

You begin your next audit, and the circle is complete.

Feel free to take part in this survey, let people know if this is a useful description of the report writing process.
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