Writing Tools for Auditors provides a complete, systematic process for ensuring useful and readable reports and for writing and self-reviewing reports. It develops a common language based on the concept of a deductive structure and ultimately a set of writing tools participants can use to write more clearly and efficiently. It includes thinking and organizing techniques (using objectives to guide work; the four elements as a critical thinking process), instruction in effective organization, paragraph and sentence-level skills, and review of grammar and punctuation. The writing tools offered in this course are based on research-proven techniques, protocol analysis (a process that discloses how readers actually read documents), and conclusive readability studies of the past several years. In creating a practical strategy for training writers, this course teaches participants to improve the usefulness and readability of the audit report, make the reporting and reviewing processes more efficient, and strengthen individual writing skills. This course is foundational and especially appropriate for newer staff or as a thorough, systematic review for more experienced staff.
(1 to 3 days)
Workplace Writing –– If the holy grail of writing is persuading your reader, then making people care can’t be far behind. The course will teach concepts and writing tools to help writers draft useful and readable documents that keep the reader’s level of interest high and level of effort low, techniques that will make your readers care more about your writing. This course can include a grammar refresher aimed at helping participants write a correct, professional style. It can include an analysis of the writing of each participant for patterns of error. It strengthens proofreading skills.
(.5 to 2 days)
Developing Critical Thinking teaches participants how to put a convincing argument together (using a neutral, fact-based tone) and to think critically about that argument and the evidence that supports it. By concentrating on the four elements of a finding and the types of evidence (testimonial, physical, and documentary), this course helps participants practice the skills necessary to producing a persuasive audit report. The case studies provided also require participants working in teams to write up and present results in a concise, convincing way.
Producing Effective Audit Writing, a refresher for Writing Tools for Auditors, focuses on developing sound and useful messages that will be responsive to client concerns, developing the relevant elements of a finding to support messages, and developing a clear, readable style. Ultimately the class creates a set of writing tools participants can use to write more clearly and efficiently, thus reducing drafting time. It includes thinking and organizing techniques and exercises that require participants to practice the skills they learn. In creating a practical strategy for training writers, this course teaches participants to improve the readability of the audit report, to make the reporting process more efficient, and to strengthen their individual writing skills.
(1 to 2 days)
Reviewing Others’ Writing concentrates on helping participants review the writing of others and coach them to be better writers. The purpose is to create better writers who produce better writing more efficiently. It emphasizes strategies for setting priorities in what to look for in other people’s writing, for reviewing effectively and efficiently so that writers (as opposed to managers) become responsible for improving documents. The course suggests the kind of changes that will add value to documents and at the same time train writers.
(1 to 2 days)
Developing the Message for Audit Reports provides a process for writing useful and readable audit reports that feature constructive messages and credible support. It includes the planning process (based on best practices across governmental auditing), critical thinking, instruction in developing message, the development of the elements of a finding, and the selection of relevant, credible evidence to support the findings. In creating a practical strategy for helping writers develop message and support, this course teaches participants to improve the usefulness and readability of audit reports and make the reporting and reviewing processes more efficient.
(1 to 2 days)
Writing and Preparing for Legislative Testimony is a challenge. Teams used to the report writing process often find it difficult to adjust to the demands of testimony. Testimony requires that complex report material be put into a well-organized, easy to understand format that focuses on message. A well-written testimony document can serve as an excellent platform for the witness’s oral statement.
(1 to 2 days)
Producing Effective Briefings/Memos focuses on the documents or the briefings that typically close out survey, and that provide the basis for the Go/No Go decision. It helps participants appreciate the difference between survey, both pre-site and site survey, and audit field work, and suggests a template for either a memo or briefing that will concisely inform upper management whether the job should continue and why or why not.
(1 to 2 days)
Executive Summary Workshop is designed to facilitate learning the best ways to write effective Executive Summaries in the preferred style and structure of the office (although the course may suggest ways to improve the office style and structure of Executive Summaries). The course discusses the elements of the Executive Summary, what information goes where and why, and how to keep these critical documents focused on message, concise, and accessible to high-level executive readers. As a workshop, it includes practical exercises, and may be modified specifically for teams that are entering the Executive Summary writing stage.
(.5 to 1 day)
Writing Seminar is a practical workshop aimed directly at improving the skills of each participant. Each participant provides a 5-page writing sample (work-related) before class. After a brief refresher on audit writing principles, participants take turns assessing each other’s samples from the perspectives of message and support, organization, paragraphs, and style.
(1-day course restricted to a maximum of 7 participants)
Writing Streamlined Audit Paragraphs and Sentences [Advanced Writers Workshop] concentrates on the two building blocks of the audit style, paragraphs and sentences. The overall goal is to streamline the paragraph and eliminate unnecessary information by focusing on the paragraph's main point and sticking to it and creating a paragraph that flows. Participants learn also to structure sentences so that the sentence core--subject-verb-object--is clear and contains the main message of the sentence. In addition, participants learn techniques so that they can make sentences concise and structure them for proper emphasis.
Preparing Useful and Useable Workpapers
What is the importance of creating quality workpapers? Workpapers (in their entirety) answer the audit objective, support the report, and develop findings and recommendations. Workpapers provide the building blocks for an audit report and must provide assurance that the work delegated to the workpaper preparer has been properly completed and contains sufficient facts to justify the reasonableness of the auditor’s conclusions. Workpapers also provide an opportunity to develop the argument and series of arguments that will be the backbone of the audit report.