Designing Assurance

We have pioneered the application of design-thinking and service-service design in the context of assurance and audit. We bring together a diverse groups of accountants and businesses to flex their creativity and to solve real and complex problems that create new opportunities for the profession in society.

These sessions are part of our Open Design Studio – a design-led incubator for new thinking and innovative ideas. Through bespoke workshops, we explore ways in which design-thinking can assist accountants to adapt the traditional audit skills to meet the needs of a changing world. We want to ensure that audit goes beyond the tick-boxing exercise it is perceived to be and to create the opportunities for audit and assurance to be judgement-based and reflective to better support clients. Service design offers a different mindset and new tools to complement accountants’ work so they can be able to do this.

With modern technology and the expectation of instantaneous information sharing, stakeholders want more from us. We need to engage with wider stakeholders in a deeper way than before to explore their needs and to gain knowledge about the client. We need to consider not only the service that we are providing to our clients, but what experiences we create for them and what value we are adding to them. Perhaps, we could dare to reframe the famous ‘expectation gap’ as innovation opportunity for the profession.

The main challenges that assurance providers are facing are the lack of creativity, flexibility and critical thinking, especially where services are process-driven or developed as a box ticking compliance exercise. There is also a lack of open and thorough communication internally where firms work in silos and externally with clients where we need to listen to the client more carefully and understand the business.

Design-thinking begins to overcome this challenge by understanding the needs and motivations of people. It is a human-centred approach that cannot work without open conversation and collaboration between assurance provider and client. There needs to be the space to experiment with new possibilities to bring about change and during this time, there needs to be acceptance that there is likely to be a trial and error period.

We will be running further workshops in 2017 in which we will explore the ways we can develop capacity for innovation and creativity in the profession. Please do get in touch if you are interested in joining the next event or if you would like us to help facilitate a session for your staff and clients.

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