Internal auditors are crucial in evaluating and improving an organization’s processes. Internal audits are a fantastic tool for continuous improvement but are often not used to their full.
Through experience, we have learned that internal auditors should constantly improve themselves, the audit process, and the audit output to make their job more valuable. By consistently getting better at these three things, they can deliver results that will be used and lead to organizational improvements.
The following nine tips are clustered into three domains: the auditor, the audit process, and the audit output. By incorporating these tips into their auditing practices, internal auditors can generate more value for the organization’s benefits and promote positive change.
A) The Auditor
Tip 1: Understand the Business:
Understand the organization’s goals, operations, and industry to tailor your audits effectively. This knowledge allows internal auditors to ask relevant and insightful questions during the audit process, leading to more meaningful and impactful outputs. By doing so, auditors can identify potential risks and areas of improvement that may not be apparent to others.
Tip 2: Stay Current:
Keep up with industry trends, regulatory changes, and auditing best practices. By doing so, internal auditors can effectively address emerging risks and challenges in the industry. Furthermore, being up-to-date allows auditors to provide valuable recommendations and guidance to management on how to adapt and improve their processes to meet evolving industry standards. Staying current enables internal auditors to maintain their credibility and contribute effectively to the organization’s success.
Tip 3: Learn continuously:
Invest in training and professional development to stay relevant and informed. It includes attending workshops, seminars, and conferences to be aware about the latest trends, technological developments and best practices. This commitment to professional development demonstrates a dedication to excellence and ensures internal auditors have the most up-to-date knowledge and tools to perform their jobs effectively.
B) The Audit Process
Tip 4: Risk Assessment:
Conduct thorough risk assessments before each audit to prioritize high-impact areas. By understanding the risks associated with an organization’s operations, internal auditors can tailor their audit to focus on areas with the highest risk. It ensures that audits are conducted targeted and efficiently, leading to more effective assessments.
Tip 5: Performance Metrics:
Audit performance metrics to understand the risks associated with an organization’s processes so that they can prioritize their efforts accordingly. Knowing the areas that pose the highest risk allows internal auditors to tailor their audit to focus on them, ensuring a targeted and efficient audit process. Auditors should also audit performance metrics to ensure they align with organizational goals and drive desired outcomes.
Tip 6: Benchmarking:
Compare the organization’s performance with industry benchmarks and best practices to identify areas for improvement. By comparing the organization’s performance with industry benchmarks and best practices, internal auditors can gain valuable insights into areas where the organization may be falling behind or where it has the potential to excel. This benchmarking process allows auditors to identify performance gaps and recommend improvement strategies based on successful industry practices.
C) The Audit Output
Tip 7: Advisory Role:
In addition to traditional auditing, offer advisory services, such as process improvements and risk management. The internal audit output should include an advisory role where auditors provide valuable insights and recommendations to the organization. This advisory role involves offering guidance on best practices and suggesting strategies for improvement based on industry benchmarks.
Tip 8: Effective Reporting:
Present audit findings clearly, concisely, and in an actionable manner. A critical aspect of an internal auditor’s role is to provide effective reporting to the organization. It includes presenting the audit findings and recommendations clearly and concisely, using language easily understandable by all stakeholders. The report should also include relevant data and evidence to support the findings and a comprehensive analysis of the organization’s current state.
Tip 9: Feedback Loop:
Establish a feedback mechanism with management to monitor progress on audit outcomes. This feedback loop allows for open communication and collaboration between the internal auditors and the organization, fostering a sense of trust and transparency. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for the organization to address any concerns or findings raised by the auditors, further enhancing the effectiveness of the audit process.
By following these tips, internal auditors can contribute significantly to an organization’s success. In other words, they can enhance very much the value they provide and remain relevant.
By Marc Cwikowski
October 08, 2023