Updated: Oct 21, 2019
You've done the planning, you've done the fieldwork, and now you have to deliver the outcomes of your work to the business area. How you go about delivering your audit observations is important, particularly to gain the buy in from management.
Whilst sometimes referred to as a Close Out meeting, I much prefer the term "Findings and Actions Workshop". Whilst essentially the same thing, the term workshop come across as being much more collaborative than "close out". In my opinion, it is almost worthless just telling the business areas what the observations are. Failure to have a collaborative workshop can possibly result in resistance to internal audit, dismissal of our findings, and failure for any chance to occur. It's for these reasons, I much prefer to call the meeting a workshop.
Before we get to the Findings and Actions Workshop, there are a few things which need to occur throughout the audit journey. Firstly, as we progress through fieldwork we should be communicating and clarifying our observations as we go. Its often during fieldwork that an issue may 'go away' when you talk to the relevant business area, gain more information and work through the situation. Its important to do this, as there is nothing more embarrassing then presenting something as an issue to management which doesn't actually exist.
Secondly, we want to document our observations as we go. For me, I find using a Potential Issues List is a great way to keep track of any potential issues, which can also double as a 'to do' tracker for you to work through and confirm your findings during the fieldwork phase.
Lastly, we want to discuss our observations internally. Using the Team Wrap Up Meeting template, we can discuss our Potential Issues List and ensure there is no other information our there which we may not have been privy to during the review, which may impact our final observations. Once we have done this exercise, we are ready to go to our workshop.
When setting up the Findings and Actions workshop, I personally find it best to refer to findings as 'Potential Observations' and to only provide a high level agenda in the meeting invite. Providing the business area the full list of observations can be a distraction, and rather than discussing the issues and underlying risks, business areas can become focused on just clearing away the issue.
During the actual workshop, its important to encourage a positive and productive environment. By this point, we should have already confirmed out potential issues list, so the focus of the workshop should be to jointly craft meaningful recommendations for each issue which will not only address the risk, but are easy for management to implement. By crafting recommendations together, we are able to automatically gain management buy in, plus hopefully speed up the report finalisation process as management have essentially just written their on recommendations.
Depending on the size of your review, you may want to think about who you invite and how you present the potential issues. In a more 'standard audit', the template which I have prepared is a good hand out to walk through and use as a discussion point for each item. For larger workshops, Thinking Audit has developed a great free guide to workshops which you can download here.
Simply CLICK HERE to download your free template.