August 2022

August 29, 2022

6 Strategies for Generating a “Big Impact” With a Small Internal Audit Staff

In a recent blog post, I shared some statistics that confirmed an inconvenient truth: the typical internal audit department is small – averaging less than 5 internal auditors.

I wrote about internal audit engagements that make a “big impact.” However, as some who read the post pointed out: “impact must be sustained over time.” One or two big impact internal audits will not ensure the long-term success of an internal audit department – particularly a small one.

I often hear chief audit executives (CAEs) of small audit shops lament about the challenges of working with limited resources. In a way, I can sympathize.…

August 24, 2022

Internal Auditors Must Sometimes Break The Rules to Ask The “Right Questions”

I recently saw an ad for an internal audit seminar on interview techniques, and it reminded me once again why this is such an important skill for our profession. Unlike good attorneys, who (as the cliche goes) are supposed to “know the answer before they ask the question,” internal auditors learn much by crafting and asking the right questions to the right people at the right time.

The best internal auditors know that there are times when we need to “break the rules” for conducting client interviews. Few skills are more essential for internal auditors than knowing how to ask the right questions.…

August 15, 2022

Internal Auditors Must Remember: Good People Can Do Bad Things

When internal auditors think of fraudulent acts, we tend to associate them with nefarious characters who intentionally set out to do something bad. However, as I have explored in my books and blogs over the years, frauds or other illegal acts are often committed by otherwise good and decent people whose personal circumstances or “blind spots” somehow caused them to lose their way. These are people who often are under extraordinary financial or personal pressures outside of the workplace. Many times, they rationalize their initial actions and don’t intend for the frauds to morph into something as big as they eventually do.…

August 10, 2022

You Don’t Have to Be a Clown to Audit the Circus

My friend and fellow blogger Norman Marks reminded us recently of an enduring challenge that many internal auditors face. In a blog post titled “You Can’t Audit This!”, Norman explores the all-too-frequent standoff between internal auditors and management about whether we have the skills and expertise to audit their areas of responsibility. There may be times when that is a legitimate concern, but it is often used more to delay or thwart an audit. Norman’s writings brought a smile to my face as I recalled instances in my career when I had to deal with “you can’t audit this.”

When push-back occurs about our ability to conduct an audit, it is usually rooted in the perception that we lack knowledge of “the business,” and that we should stick to “bean counting.”…

August 7, 2022

The Big-Impact Audit: It’s About More Than Money!

In a recent blog post, I explored the reality that most internal audit departments are actually small, with a staff of five or fewer full-time auditors. But just because a department is small doesn’t mean it can’t generate a big impact. That said, a “big impact” audit can mean different things to different folks, so I thought it would be helpful to discuss here what I believe one actually looks like.

Whether it’s in internal auditing or in life in general, we all aspire to make a difference. We want a feeling of accomplishment that comes with knowing we have changed the world, if only in a small way.…

August 1, 2022

An Inconvenient Truth: Most Internal Audit Departments Are Small

When I first became a CAE almost 30 years ago, I inherited an internal audit department with very limited resources, especially considering the size of the enterprise. With five internal auditors plus myself, we were challenged to provide quality internal audit coverage for a $10 billion entity. I knew I had my work cut out for me, and we wouldn’t get more resources unless we demonstrated greater value than the department had in the past.

I chronicled that journey in one of my books, The Speed of Risk: Lessons Learned on the Audit Trail 2nd Edition. From that first assignment as a CAE, I would go on to lead internal audit teams of more than 1,000.…