Audit Analytical Procedures: A Field Investigation

Posted: 20 May 1998

See all articles by D. Eric Hirst

D. Eric Hirst

University of Texas at Austin

Lisa Koonce

University of Texas


Analytical procedures have become an increasingly important part of financial statement auditing over the last 10 years. First recommended for audits by the Auditing Standards Board in 1978, analytical procedures are mandated for planning and overall review purposes by Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) No. 56. In response to increased concerns about audit efficiency and effectiveness, analytical procedures are increasingly being used in place of and as a supplement to substantive tests of details. Despite their increased use, little is known about how analytical procedures are performed in practice. The purpose of this study is to describe how auditors perform analytical procedures at the planning, substantive testing, and overall review stages of the audit. To accomplish this, we conducted a series of interviews with 36 audit professionals at various levels of experience and responsibility (i.e., seniors, managers, and partners) representing all of the U.S. Big Six accounting firms. The contributions of our study are threefold. First, by contributing to a more complete understanding of how analytical procedures are performed, we provide the basis for accounting researchers to identify current analytical procedure problems/issues and, thus, perform more relevant research. Second, we provide the Auditing Standards Board members with relevant information about current practice for their deliberations on revised guidance for analytical procedures. Third, we provide educators with a characterization of analytical procedures as performed in practice, thereby facilitating their classroom coverage of this important topic.

JEL Classification: M40, M49

Suggested Citation

Hirst, D. Eric and Koonce, Lisa L., Audit Analytical Procedures: A Field Investigation. Available at SSRN:

D. Eric Hirst (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

CBA 4M.202 McCombs School of Business
Austin, TX 78712
United States
512-471-5565 (Phone)
512-471-3904 (Fax)


Lisa L. Koonce

University of Texas ( email )

Dept. of Accounting
McCombs School of Business
Austin, TX 78712
United States
512-471-5576 (Phone)
512-471-3904 (Fax)

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