We recently audited a company in Germany. The investor wanted us to fly over to Hamburg for in-person interviews. It was on very short notice and a small audit, with only two to three interviews.

In the past years, we have done over a hundred audits of start- and scale-ups, mainly for investors. In 2017, when we started auditing, we would typically travel to the target company's office and perform the audit in person. Our audit process is built around interviews. When auditing on-site, we usually completed eight to ten interviews in two days.

As a remote company, we would have a competitive advantage when performing on-site audits; we could fly in team members close to the target company. The combination of travelling and the extended interview days made it highly exhausting. At one point in 2019, we started doing audits remotely as much as possible. Investors were still reluctant to do it. Some gave it a go.

In 2020, we were forced to do them remotely for apparent reasons. We have been going all-in on audits in the past three years, almost all of them remotely. Recently, we received some inquiries for on-site audits.

I refused to go on-site for the following reasons.

  1. We can spread the interviews over more days when we do the interviews remotely. We limit ourselves to three interviews per day. This way, we are fresher in the interviews, giving all the interviewees the attention they deserve.
  2. When we have more time between the interviews, we have more time to reflect and align within the audit team, driving up the quality.
  3. The interviewees can take the audit interview from wherever they feel comfortable, making them more at ease.
  4. Suppose an interviewee is not present on a particular day for any reason. We can still interview them later.
  5. It is better for the environment and way more cost-effective. We avoid the costs of flying a complete audit team to the location and have them stay for two to three days.
  6. It makes our planning and operations a lot easier. Typically, we can deliver an audit from start to finish in seven to ten working days.

In the end, we did not go to Hamburg. Coincidentally, one of the only two interviewees was home with stomach flu. Imagine if we would have travelled there to still do the audit over a conference call.