Top Mistakes That Could Mean You Fail Your Internal Audit
Internal audits can be extremely beneficial for companies and organisations, giving them the opportunity to learn, develop and improve their systems, processes and protocols which works to strengthen their business and help them achieve compliance.
However, even with the best intentions, there are a number of missteps and errors that could result in the company failing the audit altogether.
Here we go through some of the most common internal audit mistakes, with tips, guidance and advice on how you can avoid them.
Failing to Adequately Plan
Not setting aside enough time and failing to properly plan your audit is a common audit mistake that usually happens as a result of underestimating the process, putting it off too long, not prioritising the planning or simply being too busy with other work.
By taking the time to thoroughly plan your audit, you will be able to;
- Create an effective audit schedule and timeline for certification that can be used as a guide throughout the process
- Set yourself and those involved reasonable and attainable targets
- Have more room for errors, delays or setbacks
- Give employees plenty of time to prepare so that they can offer their full support
Lack of Documentation
Overall, most organisations tend to do a good job of implementing the required controls and processes, but what they fail to do is adequately document and provide evidence of what they have done.
Without sufficient proof and documentation to support a control, auditors could assume that the processes in question are not being performed consistently and are therefore not compliant. This can be avoided by ensuring that everyone is trained on the proper way to use written policies to document what they are doing, which will help to create an effective paper trail of the controls performance.
From the Top
The success of an internal audit can be completely determined by the tone and the precedent that is set by the top tier management and their attitudes towards the audit. If management are not themselves buying into the value of the audit and the importance of compliance, then this attitude will filter through and can negatively impact how it is viewed, prioritisation, allocation of resources and participation.
Compliance to the audit, recognition of the benefits and dedication to the process should be ingrained in the culture of the organisation and this starts with those in management.
Missing Risk Assessments
Risk assessments are sometimes seen as a scary thing by individuals and organisations who when it comes time to complete one, they simply put it off, do an inadequate job of it or just don’t do it at all and say they have.
A large number of the audit standards use a risk-based approach that allows the controls to focus on prioritising the reduction of the highest risks first. Without sufficient risk assessments, resources can often be wasted on lower risk controls, missing those that can leave the organisation potentially exposed or vulnerable.