Agile internal auditing: Barclays case study

We spoke to Nick Curle, Head of Strategy and Change at Barclays Internal Audit.

"Like every audit function, we are under pressure and demands and expectations are growing. In 2016 we asked ourselves should we do more of what we were already doing, or was there was a better way to do more, better, faster and to a higher standard." This, explains Nick Curle, head of strategy and change at Barclays Internal Audit, was the impetus behind a project to investigate the potential of agile working for internal audit. 

Barclays Internal Audit has a team of 650 people working on over 600 audits a year worldwide. The team started from a position of ignorance, but with an open attitude to innovation. Two internal auditors were asked to find out what ‘agile’ involved and whether it could help their team provide more to its stakeholders. 

"We started by understanding the core principles and features of agile and began experimenting with how their application could help us. We honed these into our vision of what agile auditing would look like," Curle says. 

"The term ‘agile audit’ has been used to describe flexible and responsive auditing, but, while this is really important and valuable, it is not the same as being ‘Agile’," explains Chris Spedding, change director in the function. "We recognised that many of the agile principles could help us to address the challenges, inefficiencies and frustrations we faced in delivering audits."

The starting point is the audit team. For Barclays, Spedding says, an agile approach emphasises the importance of teams determining the most effective and efficient way to deliver their work – ‘self-organising’ their roles and responsibilities. "We tried to remove any barriers to the team working together, face to face whenever possible, and with the whole team involved throughout the…