audit trail

noun
Updated on: 26 Jul 2017

Definition of audit trail

  1. :  a record of a sequence of events (such as actions performed by a computer) from which a history may be reconstructed

First Known Use of audit trail

1954


Financial Definition of AUDIT TRAIL

audit trail

What It Is

An audit trail refers to the complete record of events that occurred in the execution of a transaction.

How It Works

When a transaction is executed (e.g. a business purchase), each documented step taken makes up the audit trail. Depending on the transaction, the audit trail can be highly complex or very simple.

For instance, the audit trail for the purchase of a carton of milk would consist only of the receipt for the transaction. This receipt details the exchange of cash for the item purchased (milk), the date, and the institution where it occurred (the store).

Why It Matters

The records comprised in an audit trail can be reviewed with diligence in the event that accounting figures fail to reconcile. Recreating a transaction step-by-step will reveal where a breakdown in the process occurred (if any).

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