Audit Trail Report | 4 mins read

Audit Trail Reports- What They Are and Why They're Important

audit trail reports what they are and why theyre important 1622581220 9631
Mary Kate Morrow

By Mary Kate Morrow

The In's and Out's of Audit Trail Reports

Audit trails are defined as chronological electronic records of events or procedures. The records that create an audit trail are collected in a data log. An audit trail report is the compilation of those records.

Data contained in audit records typically include a description of an event or transaction. The date transaction or event occurred and time should also be included in this data. Some audit trail reports contain IP addresses or comprehensive details regarding devices used. Other audit trail reports supply a less specific description of systems, applications, and users concerned.

Complex audit trails may even red flag specific actions performed by users within systems or applications. For example, a real time audit trail can indicate suspicious activities performed within an organization. With this information, red flagged content can be sent to IT staff for additional examination.

The Importance of Audit Trails

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Audit trails are important for a variety of industries and functions. Different United States industries and even professionals within industries use audit trail reports differently.
Professionals use audit trails for everything from accounting software to United States voting records. As such, the ability to view audit trail reports can affect everything from an accounting audit to United States elections. Additionally, university student records and nursing medical records often use audit trail reports.

An audit trail report is important to present a comprehensive record of changes made chronologically and historically. Many organizations use audit trails for compliance adherence purposes. Organizations that include integrity in their best practices can use audit trail reports to support best practices claims. Ultimately, a trail report keeps both organizations and concerned parties informed and organized regarding operations.

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How Audit Trails are Used

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Businesses use audit trail reports for a variety of different best practices and operations. Common instances where businesses use audit trail reports range from compliance to fraudulent activities. There are various circumstances where an audit trail report may be inaccessible for a date range temporarily. For example, due to a sudden natural disaster, trail reports may be damaged or corrupted. Businesses can use a trail report to recreate transactions for a date range if a backup version is available. However, if a backup version is not available, reconstruction may be the sole option left.

Reconstruction is known as a time and energy depleting process. As such, the majority of organizations would prefer to bypass the reconstruction process altogether whenever possible. Thankfully, programs like accounting software can significantly assist with reconstruction efforts. The ability to recover and reconstruct audit data is worth the investment in accounting software and audit trail report tools.

The ability to clearly view the date range and any changes made to the audit trail is especially helpful. There are no United States businesses that operate independently of regulations or compliance. However, some United States businesses are more closely monitored and regulated than others. Thankfully, an audit trail report is ordinarily recognized as a valid source for confirming that compliance. Additionally, an audit trail report presents a record for concerned individuals to easily view audit trail data.

Date range and changes made can provide evidence to help disprove or confirm fraudulent activity. For example, a staff member may log in to view audit trail data upon hearing security protocol was expanding. To attempt to avoid being caught engaging in fraudulent activity, the staff member may have even tried to make changes. However, the ability to view audit trail changes could help confirm the staff member was guilty of fraudulent activity. The organization may then choose to use audit trail data for employee termination. In serious circumstances, an organization may even use audit trail data as evidence for criminal proceedings.

Even the most organized institutions and professionals may sometimes be unable to remember important information respecting a prior transaction. Additionally, changes sometimes need to be made to a specific past transaction. Unfortunately, a professional may have no idea how to find the prior transaction. Thankfully, accounting software programs can help professionals locate lost audit trail information through search functions. Accounting software can allow professionals to locate a transaction by searching a date range or user name. Importantly, search functions range per specific accounting software utilized.

Key Takeaways for Audit Trail Reports

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  • Organizations use audit trail reports for many different processes and operations.
  • Audit trail reports are important for everything from locating lost transactions to confirming compliance best practices were satisfied.

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