12 Building a print circulations audit system

12.14. Data reporting, gathering, processing, storage and publishing

The audit deals with a massive volume of data processing, classification, transfer, storage and publication. The more the titles that join the ABC audit, the greater the challenge an ABC (as well as publishers and auditors) will face. Remember that the flow of data goes between publishers, ABC, auditors, and the public at large.

The publishers gather their data into the forms established by the ABC, transfer them to the ABC and/or auditor. The ABC transfers data to publishers and auditors, auditors transfer data to publishers and the ABC, all while the ABC is publishing data. It’s an ongoing process of tracking and reporting numbers, and it’s numbing in its scope.

There is a clear need to establish a smooth system to handle the data flowing among the involved parties.

An ABC should be sure to develop in detail all the forms and documents to be used by its clients for audit purposes (e.g. data reporting formats).

It is a good thing to make and publish an audit calendar, which displays the different deadlines of the tasks related to the audit (e.g. audit periods, deadline for different reports, etc.).

It is imperative to develop a proper Information Technology infrastructure that can handle all the data. This structure can save a lot of time, as well as paper, and make the whole audit process cheaper and much faster.

In Hungary, we use a fully electronic system to administer the data.

• We have programmed Excel tables (e-returns), for each type of publication.
• The tables are structured to handle issue-by-issue circulation figures, as well as full printing house and distribution channel breakdowns.
• The publishers download these files, and complete them with their own data.
• The files are uploaded by the publishers onto the ABC’s servers. Our administration is automatically notified at each download, so we can check the data.
• The files are programmed to filter out mathematical and other statistical errors. Our servers are programmed to not accept/upload files containing errors.
• After we check the data, we send these files to the auditors, who then arrange for the audit with the publishers. The receipt of this set of data by the auditor is an automatic audit order from us.
• The auditors bring these files to the audit, and if there is any need to correct any data, they process the correction in their files.
• At the end of audit, the auditors send us the audited data file, which we upload into our system.
• We verify the reports, and if they are correct, with the click of a button, the audit certificates are produced and published on our website.

Before we introduced this system, we used a paper-based reporting. Our storehouse still has cubic meters of paper from the old audits. But we have no more paper audit records. The only document in paper is a two-page report of the auditor, signed by the publisher.

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