By Ken Lynch
Whereas both internal and external audits give you a better outlook of your data security, you will realize that most of your employees avoid the process. The process is time-consuming, tiresome and mostly feels unimportant to their daily activities. Adopting an effective workflow for your company’s audit management process can lead to a faster turnaround that allows you to save money and your employees’ time.
Why does the audit process consume a lot of time?
Whether you’ve contracted an external audit company or tasked your company’s internal auditors, remember that communication and documentation are vital for the success of the audit process. Before the process starts, you need to supply your auditor with all the necessary documentation. In the course of the audit, the auditor requires to interact with your employees. After it is done, the auditor needs to hold a meeting with all your company’s senior management in a bid to submit the audit report and talk about the results.
All these activities, including tracking down certain documents, finding the relevant parties and organizing meetings, are time-consuming. In case the parties involved have a conflict, the meeting is postponed. Also, if the parties in charge or those responsible fail to respond to requests by the auditor, the audit process cannot start.
Why is it necessary to streamline the audit process?
The answer to this question is money. Irrespective of whether you are using an external firm or your audit staff, bear in mind that you’ll pay for the work.
Most external audit companies charge their clients on an hourly basis. Hence, you end up paying for the time that such auditors spend trying to locate your employees. Furthermore, the longer it takes for your staffs to respond to audit requests, the more time the auditor requires to review the reason behind the request.
For the case of an internal audit team, communication issues end up costing you money. Aside from checking boxes on their lists, they regularly go through the compliance and legal framework to check for updates. In case your audit team fails to complete your company’s audits efficiently, then it is not fit for the job.
What’s more, certain regulatory conditions specify the amount of time you should take to complete auditing your business. If the process takes more time than the set period, you can be accused of non-compliance.
What does the internal audit process entail?
An internal audit process is made up of eleven stages, whereby each one of them requires proper communication flow between the necessary parties including the IT department, senior management, the auditor, and other essential stakeholders.
Stage 1: Planning
In this stage, the internal auditor must set the objectives and scope before moving on to establish the first time frame. Audit planning can also involve a request for the necessary documentation or the scheduling of the first meeting.
Stage 2: Reviewing of Documents
Your internal auditor will then start assessing procedures, policies, and established controls. The aim of this stage is ensuring that your written plans are in line with the available regulations and standards.
Stage 3: Field Work
At this stage, the auditor checks whether your actions at the workplace match your documented procedures and policies. Filed work also includes holding a meeting with the employees and participating in the daily business operations to ensure your company’s compliance with organizational documents, regulations, and standards.
Stage 4: Following up
Regularly, your internal auditor will have to make follow-up questions before completing the audit report or even encounter missing documents. It is his or her work to address any confusion before handing over the findings.
Stage 5: Reporting
Most business owners fear this stage. After your auditor goes through all the available information and finalizes testing, he will issue you with a draft report. The report contains a comprehensive listing of vulnerabilities and his or her independent assessment over the strength of your program.
Sending the draft report to you gives you the chance to go through it and time to respond to the outlined findings before the auditor issues the last report.
Stage 6: Issue Tracking
In case the report had some findings, then you must track all the documented issues and try to remedy the situation.
How does establishing an audit workflow simplify communication?
Developing audit workflows can not only boost communications but also reduce the length of the audit. Workflows enable you to assign duties and check any progress made by using each stage involved in the audit process.
After assigning the roles, you can now communicate easily with each other in a bid to track and obtain all the documentation.
How can the automation of audit workflows streamline the process?
A workflow management tool can assist you in delegating work to the relevant parties and keeping tabs with their progress.
Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that. He has propelled Reciprocity’s success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT. Learn more at ReciprocityLabs.com.