How can internal audit better align with the organization's strategic priorities?
PEPPERS All of The IIA's recent stakeholder surveys tell us we must maintain or enhance organizational alignment to stay relevant. A practical test to ensure internal audit has the right balance is to consider how much of its risk assessment efforts are spent looking backward at past events versus looking forward at what is to come. Confirm that assurance and advisory engagements are selected to address the current objectives of the organization. Of course, that assumes you are knowledgeable about those strategic activities.
URBAN We are in a transformative age--business today is anything but usual. Strategic priorities are driving organizations more than ever to continue to protect and grow. This is where we can add tremendous value by tying our audit plans back to the organization's strategy. If our assurance and consulting work is not aligned with what's most important to the organization, we should challenge why we are doing it. If it's a regulatory or management requirement, then we should identify ways to cover those areas more efficiently so we can focus more on the risks aligned to strategic priorities.
How should internal audit adapt to meet changing expectations?
URBAN It is critical that internal audit practices and processes are flexible and able to adapt to the disruptive changes happening around us. Many internal audit functions follow prescribed practices that are carved in stone in the audit manual. This helps with consistency and quality, but it sometimes keeps auditors from exploring alternate approaches that may be more impactful or efficient for a particular risk area. Internal auditors should allocate time during the planning phase of an audit project to challenge themselves on the approach and techniques they deploy, and make innovation or continuous improvement part of the planning process.
PEPPERS We have to be in touch with those expectations. Our audit team members are the best resources to help with that. They should be encouraged to listen to our customers and come back and tell us what they hear. As a group, we can then be responsive. While adaptation and evolution are imperative, there are also fundamental principles and practices that shouldn't fluctuate wildly. So thoughtfully consider where and when to invest time and resources into change.
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