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From Rigidity to Resilience: Unleashing the Potential of Agile Internal Audit 

05/06/2023by admin0Read: 4 minutes

In recent years, traditional operating models have been disrupted by technology and remote work practices, and internal audit functions have had to adapt to flexible and scalable audit techniques quickly. This shift is called Agile internal audit and has allowed internal auditors to make lasting changes.

Internal audit functions can improve their approach to become more practical and agile as the demand for faster, more focused, and adequate assurance continues. Agile Internal Audit enhances the value proposition of an internal audit by enabling a more flexible and adaptive approach to managing organisational risk dynamics.

Agile Internal Audit

Agile Internal Audit refers to the approach that an Internal Audit function will follow to meet stakeholder demands, speed up audit cycles, provide timely insights, minimise unnecessary effort, and produce less documentation.

Its objective is to enhance internal audit processes to address emerging risks in the landscape effectively, and this non-traditional approach aims to simplify the methods used for internal auditing.

Agile software development approaches have sometimes been utilised to radically alter the approach and underlying procedures for carrying out internal audit engagements.

All businesses, especially second and third-line functions, increasingly employ agile techniques to provide efficient outputs.

Objectives of Agile Internal Audit:

An Agile Internal Audit aims to fulfil the following objectives:

  • Audit cycles that are shorter and more frequent.
  • Relevant insights.
  • increased connection with stakeholders and adherence to their demands
  • less waste and paperwork
  • regular interaction
  • improved auditing standards.

Benefits of Agile Internal Audit

The agile project and change management technique, designed to adapt to constantly changing conditions, is the foundation for agile internal audits.

Below given are the benefits of Agile Internal Audit

  1. Flexible and dynamic planning for internal audits through ongoing risk assessment.
  2. Quick iterations help with rapid audit modifications.
  3. Value generation with an emphasis on iterative, agile reporting of results.
  4. Reporting iteratively.
  5. Ongoing technique optimisation via the acceptance of the change.
  6. Multidisciplinary teams and collaboration as the foundation for additional value.
  7. When new projects or substantial business interruptions develop, the agile technique provides a better effect since it is quicker and iterative, allowing for more flexibility.
  8. Agile internal auditing approaches provide timely assurance provision in ever-changing and unpredictable environments.
  9. Agile internal auditing results in lower costs, more effective delivery, and higher quality.
  10. Agile helps prioritise audits based on risk and the organisation’s preparedness to conduct the audit; the provided report concentrates on offering insights and delivering briefer, quicker comments – with fewer words and, ideally, more pictures.

Comparison of Delivery Approach of Agile Internal Audit and Traditional Audit

The concept of agile internal audit provides an opportunity to reassess how audit plans are implemented and important controls are monitored in the long term.

Internal audit professionals should consider the necessary changes to traditional audit approaches as they transition to an agile delivery method.

Here is the Comparison of Agile Internal Audit and the traditional audit approach to offer perspective to businesses in Australia and the world.

Sr.No. Elements Agile Internal Audit Traditional Audit
1. Focus Expectations of Defined Value Objectives of Audit
2. Ownership Team-based, Collective Effort Internal Audit Team
3. Sequence of Engagement Order of Work Cycles Linear
4. Planning Fast, incremental, iterative (sprint) activities Meticulously crafted activities, and a robust internal audit plan
5. Communication Regular Communication such as daily meetings and participation from auditees. Spontaneous conversation when completing fieldwork and reporting
6. Updates on Status Daily input and feedback from important stakeholders and clients, with incremental improvements being made over time. Ad-hoc, when required, needed or as per the auditing approach of an organisation
7. Status Reporting  Shorter ‘summaries’ emphasising on value and visualisation are given throughout the project One report, delivered after the audit concludes and frequently necessitates a time-consuming review procedure.
 

8.

Documentation Value-based and rationalised.

80/20 rule – 20 per cent efforts to achieve 80 per cent results across the project

Significant, extensive, and comprehensive effort backed by frequent assessment at project completion to confirm that the work is acceptable.
 

9.

Relationship with Auditees Teamwork and taking consent in all instances. From afar or at a distance

Optimising Agile Internal Audits

There will always be a need for comprehensive internal audits that effectively address complicated and high-risk evaluations. Internal audit teams will need to carefully assess the application of agile, ensuring that the audit issue is suitable and that the profile of the participating auditees is appropriate. Some aspects of internal audit may be best suited for agile methodologies.

1. Critical Controls Monitoring:

Frequent and repetitive reviews facilitate the exchange of observations and prompt responses. Employing an agile approach to analyze data for essential controls is also possible.

Focus on key business and compliance risks, like Delegations of Authority (DoA), third-party vendor management, cash management, cybersecurity, and fraud threats.

2. Change Programs:

Change programmes can encompass various elements such as introducing new operations, updating operational technology, modifying processes, creating new goods, and strategic change efforts.

3. Data-analytics-driven Internal Audits:

It includes Internal audits powered by data analytics, such as payroll, accounts payable/receivable, and procurement, might be included.

4. Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity:

This may include assessing the effectiveness of continuity plans, evaluating design appropriateness, conducting health checks, and reviewing post-recovery procedures.

Agile Reporting Enhances Stakeholders’ Value

Agile Internal audit reports are concise, accurate, and timely. They result from observations that management has previously discussed and accepted, for which management has made decisions or taken action.

The primary concepts include the following:

  • Towards the end of each ‘sprint,’ a brief summary of findings is presented (for example, through the use of a memorandum). For instance, a data analytic dashboard report is a useful one-page overview emphasising exceptions.
  • Reports are addressed jointly with auditees to offer perspective and input for prompt action.
  • The final report, which presents thematic results and views of the process examined, is a compilation of each summary at the end of a sprint.

As a consulting firm, Anitech has been a trusted partner for our various clients during Covid-19 and has implemented an agile internal audit approach for them.

If you want us to assist your Company with an agile internal audit methodology, ring us at 1300 802 163 or email us at info@anitechgroup.com

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