What is an Audit Trail?

An Audit Trail Is a Critical Piece of Any Business Process

 

audit trail illustrated

What is an Audit Trail?

An audit trail provides verifiable evidence that a sequence of tasks or activities have been performed as part of a process or operation. In a workflow context, an audit trail refers to the tracking, capturing, and reporting of all tasks, activities, participants, times, dates, and actions related to a particular workflow or business process. An audit trail, therefore, provides explicit who, what, when, where, how information used to either confirm that tasks were performed as expected or identify errors.


What is Included in an Audit Trail?

In a business process, workflows tend to follow a fairly linear, step-by-step method where tasks are assigned and completed in a standardized order. Exceptions can be predicted and alternate paths can be taken but for the most part, these processes are predictable. Activities that occur within the process can easily be traced back to the source. For instance, a finance director who approved a purchase. By using an audit trail, anyone who needs to know who made this particular approval can easily find out not just who, but:

  • When the approval was made
  • What the approver reviewed before making the approval, including any files that were provided
  • Where the request originated
  • What steps were taken leading up to the approval
  • When the approval was made (Date/Time)

Audit Trail Example

In the screenshot example below we show a sample audit trail derived from Integrify. Integrify's "Request Detail" is completely configurable by administrators, allowing for the removal or inclusion of summaries, KPIs, Open Tasks, Completed Forms, Related Requests, Request Records, Task History, and Reports. You can read more about this configuration on our Help Site.

In this example, the process was for a Competitive Discount Request Form. At the top, you can see a summary of where the process stands, which is "Approved with Adjustments."

Below that you can see that two forms were completed, both by Tom Rezk. For the sake of space, we cropped out the dates they were completed, but those are typically visible.

  1. In the Task History section, you can see a complete audit trail of when the form was submitted, who submitted it, and the information that was captured in the form.
  2. In the Manager Approval section, you can see that this request was assigned to a group of managers, where only one of them needed to approve it for the process to continue. In this case, Dave Willsey approved the request, which automatically cancels the tasks for the other two managers in the group. If it had been configured to require all three managers to approve it, you would see "Completed" next to all of their names.
  3. In this case, the approval was made by the manager with adjustments. The manager was then required to complete a "Pricing Adjustment Form" and a notification was automatically sent to the requester with the adjusted pricing. You can see the data that was entered in the form at the bottom. If you wanted to see the form exactly as it was submitted, you could click on the clipboard icon.
  4. If any documents had been attached to the form, they would be listed with the form information as well and could be viewed.
     
  5. audit trail example #2

How Are Audit Trails Used?

Audit trails can be used internally and externally for a variety of use cases.

Regulatory Audit

Depending on your industry (especially healthcare, finance, government contracting, insurance, etc.) you may be subject to a regulatory audit. Government agencies can use the audit trail you provide to review and confirm that proper standards were followed and that you can identify sources.

Corporate Governance and Compliance

Companies that have strict corporate governance and compliance initiatives can use audit trails to ensure corporate policies are being followed and root out both errors and corporate malfeasance.

Continuous Improvement

An audit trail can show examples of areas for improvement in a process. For instance, if there are frequent mistakes or delays unearthed by reviewing the audit trail, workflow administrators can look for opportunities to improve forms, copy, routing, etc. and ensure a better end product.

Training

By reviewing audits with new employees, trainers can show examples of how a process is supposed to be followed from beginning to end and provide insight to new employees about the importance of following standards.

Find Out More About Integrify

To see Integrify's audit trail in action, request a demonstration or watch some of our product videos. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us anytime.

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