Situation: In this case Brent Dorsey, a recent college graduate, is working on his second audit engagement. He is suffering from the pressures that often accompany a new professional in a competitive field, as he tries to juggle the long hours he needs to put in to advance with his firm, and the demands of a new wife, who is expecting their first child. Added to those pressures Brent’s immediate supervisor, who is also worried about his own job security, is trying keep his team from exceeding and unrealistic budget. He tells Brent and his co-worker Hans that they must audit accounts payable over the weekend. He also tells them that they must complete it in the 35 hours that are still available before they exceed the budget. Brent and the others on the team know that it will take longer than that to complete the audit. Brent is faced with a dilemma. He consults with members of his audit team and is faced with a many options, but not sure which one to choose.
1. There are several alternatives available to Brent in regards to the audit of payables. They include:
a. Do the audit in a timely manner and record all the hours that it took to complete the audit. Pros- If all the appropriate steps are taken the quality of the audit should be high. This will decrease the chances of a material misstatement. The accuracy of the audit will positively affect the professional reputations in the firm and also the audit team. Brent could also get satisfaction from knowing that he did the job he was obligated to do. Cons- If the audit takes as long to complete as expected this could make John, the supervisor, unhappy. As anyone in the workforce knows, anytime the immediate supervisor is unhappy working conditions are negatively impacted.
b. Discuss with John the concerns that he has and see if he has any alternative solutions or guidance. Pros- Since Brent is the newest member on the team and the least experienced he may not be aware of all of the alternatives available. John may be able to offer guidance to help Brent make the correct choices. Also, it relives Brent of some of the liability of making the wrong decision. In any work situation it is important to keep the lines of communication open. If John is an ethical and responsible leader he will be open to discussing any problems with his staff. Cons- John may feel like Brent is questioning his authority and become defensive. This could lead to an uncomfortable conversation for Brent. Also, if John is not ethical he may try to pressure Brent to make a decision that would not be ethical. Since Brent is the newest member of the team he may be more easily pressured. Regardless of the outcome Brent should document the conversation in his own records.
c. If the above option does not go well and the problem is still not resolved Brent should go to upper level management. This option should only be exercised after Brent has tried to find resolution with John. This should only be used as a last resort. In any place of business there is a chain of command and Brent should follow that when he goes to upper-level management. Pros- The upper level management have even more experience handling delicate situations. If they are responsible they will offer guidance to Brent. Also, if a decision is made to reduce the number of invoices from 30 to 20 this will reduce the liability for Brent as long as he keeps documentation from someone in an office of authority that they approved the change. Cons-Because Brent and John could not reach a resolution Brent runs the risk of looking like a difficult employee or like a “slacker” to his bosses. Once Brent goes over John’s head that can never be undone. There may be hard feelings between the two that will make future working relationships strained.
d. Take the suggestion from a more experienced co-worker and pull 20 invoices instead of the 30 that had been audited in the