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Precautions should be taken with Test Checking Techniques

Generally, a large manufacturing concern is associated with a large volume of transactions. Also, the nature of the transactions is determined by the nature of the business. Depending upon the product lines, the sales mechanics may be different for different products - some may be to dealers and agents, some to wholesalers and some others even to retailers and consumers directly. Sales and purchase operations may stretch even to overseas markets. There may be various forms in which such a concern can raise bank finance, like letter of credit, packing credit, overdraft, bills discounted, etc. Basically, in a large manufacturing concern the problem is the problem of volume and variety.

In the circumstances when necessarily the test check technique has got to be adopted for audit work, it should be done by taking certain precautions so that a reliable idea about the truth and fairness of the accounts can be obtained by the auditor. The precautions that should be taken may be the following :

(i) The transactions of the concern should be classified under appropriate heads and may be stratified if wide variations are there between transactions of the same kind.

(ii) Systems and procedures for entering into and processing a transaction right from the beginning to the end should be studied in a sequential order. It involves questions of authorizations, documentation and recording and evidencing the same.

(iii) The whole of the system of internal control in the areas of accounts and finance should be studied and evaluated for its efficiency, soundness and capability for producing reliable accounting and financial data. This can be done by studying the controls and internal checks, evaluating their general soundness in the context of the business of the concern and testing their actual operation. If, and only if, the auditor is satisfied about soundness of the controls and their operation in actuality, can he decide to have test checks. For testing the operation of the control system, he should select a few transactions and check them in depth by the application of procedural tests.

(iv) A properly thought-out test check plan should be prepared and the objective of each check should be clearly understood by the auditing staff. For example, each voucher may be checked by the test check method for a number of objectives - one may be to ensure that the cash payments are properly authorised and acknowledged, others may be to see whether the amount actually payable has in fact been paid and whether the payment has been debited to the proper account. If there is a mix-up in the objectives or the objective is to test a number of variables in one test scheme, the result may not be helpful. Hence it requires a clear definition of the audit objective related to the particular test check plan.


(v) The transactions falling under each test-check plan should be selected in a manner so that bias cannot enter in the selection. For the purpose, selection should be made by reference to the random number tables.

(vi) Identification of the areas where test check may not be done. For example, if there are only 20 overseas sales in the year, it would be preferable to have them all thoroughly checked.

(vii) The number of transactions to be selected for each test-check plan should be predetermined. This can be done by deciding upon the degree of reliance that should be placed on the test-check result and the confidence that can be placed - the result to be obtained should be veering round the degree of reliance set up. Once the degree of reliance and the confidence level required in the audit for expression of the opinion have been decided, the number to be tested out of the given population can be easily known by reference to the statistical tables.

(viii) Errors that may be found may be material or immaterial in the context of the particular audit. Since errors of immaterial nature are not likely to distort the overall truth and fairness of the accounts, it is necessary to decide upon the criteria to judge what constitutes a material error. Further investigation of immaterial error may be avoided and only the material errors may be properly and thoroughly investigated.

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