The strategic planning process will feature on many audit plans as it is critical to the future success of the organisation – its integrity, relevance to external conditions, consideration of options and appropriateness of underlying assumptions. But what of internal audit’s strategy – has it had the same scrutiny?
This paper explores key issues for heads of internal audit (HIAs) to include in their audit strategy or have good reason for excluding as they will be instrumental in supporting the continued evolution of internal audit.
Evolution without strategy?
In our ever changing world, traditional 3-5 year audit strategies may seem outdated, yet without a framework for change there are risks. Firstly that internal audit is misaligned to the organisations strategy and secondly that change activity becomes a substitution of one thing for another without evolution or transformation. Leadership is about direction and a strategy clearly demonstrates to stakeholders how internal audit will meet and aim to exceed their needs.
A driver planning a journey from Aberdeen to Swansea will have a route in mind although will undoubtedly need to adapt due to traffic disruptions along the way. This may change plans for fuel stops and comfort breaks, encounter a few wrong turns or lead to unexpected opportunities that delay the journey, but still reaching the intended destination. The trusty sat nav supports the driver in their journey once programmed with an endpoint much like a strategy with its goal and purpose can guide a HIA.
With ever increasing demands on internal audit, what HIA has the time to drive around just to admire the view, no matter how nice it is! Where is the organisation going? What does internal audit need to ready itself to provide assurance over; new projects/systems/markets/territories, mergers, acquisitions, downsizing or transformational change.
HIAs are used to…
"When your headlights aren’t on, the best rear view mirror available isn’t likely to improve your driving"
- Extreme Trust, Peppers and Rogers