6 goals to help your audit team succeed in the new year
2020 has thrown a lot of challenges at audit teams, but overall, teams have stepped up to the challenge and proven their worth. Internal Audit's position within a business has shown just how important we are, and given some real exposure to the knowledge contained in our team. But with all this good work done in 2020, audit teams may have their own challenges going into 2021. Re-setting the annual plan for 2021, focusing on activities that were put on the back burner, and reinstating training may be some of the challenges which lay ahead for audit teams in 2021.
In this post, we are going to list some suggested goals for you and your audit teams in 2021. As always, we have placed links to our handy templates or other guides which will help guide you even more as we set your 2021 goals.
1. Learning Plan
The Institute of Internal Audit (IIA) this year released the new Internal Audit Competency Framework. You can download the full framework here. As per the IIA website, "the IIA’s Internal Audit Competency Framework provides a clear and concise professional development plan for internal auditors at every level of their career".
Build and execute a learning plan which helps audit teams and individual auditors meet the competency levels as detailed in the IIA's Internal Audit Competency Framework.
My Audit Spot have built a handy template which will help you map training to the relevant competencies, and map our your learning plan for the year. For a copy of the Learning Plan:
2. Reduce Open Audit Actions
Each year, audit teams spend a huge amount of time in chasing open audit actions, reporting and updating against open actions, and then adding even more actions to what seems like a never ending process. Action tracking is one area which nobody enjoys, but equally, nobody wants to fix it as it is always pushed aside so team members can focus on audit activity. This is now your chance to fix this.
Review and refresh the action tracking program, by encouraging the business to be more proactive in audit recommendation implementation, and streamlining action tracking reporting processes.
Unfortunately, we don't have a tool for this (yet), however keep an eye out in January. There will be some very handy tools being made available. Nevertheless, you can still set the project up and get the team ready to go in January.
3. Improve audit timeliness
Audit timeliness is typically an area that audit teams struggle with, particularly in the reporting phase. This can be our year to fix it. Through another project, we can improve our audit timeliness monitoring, identify the pinch points, and set new ways of working to help us meet our reporting KPIs.
Improve audit timeliness with 90% of audits to be delivered in line with Internal Audit KPIs.
My Audit Spot have built a handy KPI tracking tool. For a copy of the KPI tracking tool:
4. Improve audit quality
Continuous improvement is important to ensure the success and high performance of internal audit teams. A well rounded quality assurance program will not only help enforce quality in all audit work, but also act as an educational tool; identifying problem areas and allowing management to provide training focused on those areas needing most improvement.
Achieve an overall rating of 98% compliance for all internal audits.
It is important that before we implement a quality assurance program that all team members are aware of and understand the minimum requirements for each audit. If you don't already, it would be strongly recommended you have in place an Audit Manual as this will essentially outline to requirements which every audit should adhere to. You can purchase a copy of our Audit Manual Template here. Please note: We have Audit Manual Templates available in a range of languages; please see our store.
If you already have a manual in place, we have developed a handy checklist template and results monitoring tool:
If you do not have an audit manual template, you can purchase an audit manual here.
5. Increase transparency
Sometimes audit teams may struggle with communication between themselves (particularly now because of remote working), or even struggle to communicate effectively with the wider business. One way to address this is via an Internal Audit newsletter. The newsletter can be used to show progress against audit's own objectives for the year, progress against the audit plan, and update on the open action items. Furthermore, it can be a great tool for communicating and implementing best practice guidance.
Implement a monthly newsletter program and obtain feedback from the business and audit team on the value of the monthly audit newsletter.
My Audit Spot have a newsletter template ready to go.
6. Build a knowledge warehouse
As proven already this year, Internal Audit is a fountain of knowledge, and whilst we might know a lot from the various audits we have completed, we don't necessarily document everything in a simple and easy to use way which can be leveraged through plenty of other audits. This is where a knowledge warehouse can come in handy. A knowledge warehouse can store process maps from all the various walkthroughs in a simple way which can be utilised by the business and audit team alike. Similarly, the knowledge warehouse could include a business area profile; a summary of the key players within the business area and an overview of the technology, processes and dependencies within the particular area. This information should be captured during the audit planning meetings, but can be summarised and used to help the business with any future planning, or business continuity assessments.
Establish a knowledge warehouse and establish a new way of working which ensures the warehouse is built upon with each audit.
We don't have a template for this one, but keep an eye out as we will have a blog post early next year describing how this can be achieved.
Now that we know what your team goals and objectives are for 2021, you need to communicate them. We have a free handy checklist which you can download here. This checklist will make sure you have done all the admin you need to make sure you can achieve your goals this year.
All the best for 2021!