An adequate internal audit management offers security and effectiveness for the evaluated Management System, for example, Quality Management, a standardized system with greater implementation at international level. Let us remember that the audit has among its objectives to identify problems that prevent the system from meeting the needs of stakeholders and the achievement of corporate objectives.
That is why internal auditing is the engine that drives the continuous improvement of the system. But this does not mean that performing many audits will lead to much more improvement. It is necessary to adopt a consistent and coherent internal audit management that responds to the particular needs of each system.
Here are 7 proven strategies to make internal audit management a profit-enhancing factor and an essential assessment tool.
Effective Internal Audit Management – 7 Proven Strategies
Internal audits of a management system are performed because they are needed, but also because the standard on which the system is based requires it. The information provided by an internal audit helps the organization to continuously improve and ensure stakeholder satisfaction.
To get the best results from an audit program, it must be managed in accordance with best practices. An effective and well-managed audit program is the result of:
Having a plan of action instills confidence in employees, regulators, but most importantly, in the auditor. The message is that the organization, and the professionals in the area being assessed, are in control and working to improve every day.
But the management of planned internal audits also ensures the availability of the people involved, the data, information and space required, as well as the technological resources to be used, which can be various and very specific in the case of remote audits.
An accurate plan ensures compliance with the deadlines and times for each task. It is important to designate a team to plan the audits for the semester or year, and to communicate to the relevant areas or persons involved, thus ensuring the availability of everything necessary for the normal development of the task.
2. Choose and train the team of auditors.
Even in small organizations, although it may seem unnecessary, it is good for everyone to know well in advance what they will have to do, when and how. The choice of internal auditors involves verifying that an auditor will not be evaluating the work of an area in which he works.
Training and education, not only in auditing techniques, but also in the specific knowledge of the area to be audited, quality, for example, is a decisive factor for the success of the task. Everything starts with planning: if we know that we will face a representative number of audits to the Quality Management System, it is important to have the right professionals to fulfill the mission.
3. Include the right people
People who are responsible for performing day-to-day activities and executing routine processes have the best insight into what is going right or wrong, even if they do not have the knowledge about the exact requirement of a given standard that may be being breached.
Excluding these people could result in overlooking serious problems that are not perceived by the area manager or senior executives in the organization. Thus, for effective internal audit management it is important to integrate the right people into the process.
4. Focus on risks and controls to prevent them.
Checklists are very useful for an internal audit. Effective internal audit management, however, should focus on risk rather than on filling out a form by marking X’s in a few spaces.
This will allow the auditor to identify risks, but also the respective controls. And, if they do not exist, to recommend their design and implementation. During this work, which is performed in the field, the auditor should have the opportunity to test the controls and their effectiveness. From this action come the best audit notes. The ones that truly promote continuous improvement of the system.
5. Write constructive and proactive reports.
A good audit should close with a report that effectively contributes to the improvement of the system. The report, contrary to general belief, is not written at the end of the field work. The report is built step by step during the audit itself, with the auditor’s notes, with his observations, with the material and evidence he collects.
When there is nothing to say, neither good nor bad, it is better to say nothing. Some auditors think that the sometimes unjustified length of their reports reflects the value of their work. Constructive reports that point out problems and suggest solutions, but also point out positive aspects and opportunities for improvement, are the result of excellent internal audit management.
6. Post-audit follow-up
The audit formally ends with the closing meeting and delivery of the audit reports to senior management. But the auditor can still do more. He can perform monitoring and surveillance activities to oversee the implementation of the corrective actions suggested or prescribed in his reports.
Post-closure follow-up will facilitate the work of the same auditor or another auditor who may be assigned the task in the future. This, in addition to contributing to the success of internal audit management, will lead to even better qualification of the internal auditor’s work.
7. Take advantage of technology and the digitalization of Management Systems
In this era of Digital Transformation, internal auditors find in technology their best ally. Automated systems are easier to audit, the traceability of processes and information can be established without problems, procedures are agile and the auditor’s task is facilitated, optimizing results.
Undoubtedly, the digitalization of Management Systems becomes a great tool for effective internal audit management. Training, taking advantage of technology, is also a great value.