I think internal auditing can be one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet. But let’s face it — no matter how good you are at your job, it’s not likely that people drop by your office each day just to tell you how much they loved your last audit. Still, there are unmistakable signs that your last audit was a big success. Here are a few of my favorite indicators that an internal audit report hit a home run.
Your audit committee specifically asks for you to brief the members on your last audit. At most organizations, the chief audit executive regularly attends audit committee meetings, but other auditors are less likely to attend the meetings. If you normally are not invited to attend committee meetings and the audit committee wants to hear from you — congratulations! Most likely, your audit had important repercussions, and your efforts are being noticed. In that case, internal audit has hit a home run. (Unless, of course, the audit committee called you in only because the members wanted to criticize your audit — in which case, unfortunately, the name for your situation probably is a “strikeout.”)
The CEO or CFO sees you in the hallway and stops you to talk about the audit. When people stop what they are doing just to talk about the results of a recent audit, chances are good that you are making a difference in your organization. Any special recognition of an audit, even during an impromptu meeting, is an indicator that people have been thinking about your report and its consequences. I look at this as a strong indication that internal audit is functioning as an agent for positive change.
Your audit recommendations result in significant cost savings, enhanced revenues, or major efficiencies. Everybody loves money! If your internal audit report resulted in a significantly more profitable organization, I’m sure you already know that your audit hit a home run. These are results that any auditor could be proud of. Internal auditors know that money is not the only thing that matters — but it never hurts.
Your internal audit reveals a major unrecognized risk or ferrets out a major fraud. When an internal audit unearths a serious problem or stops a major problem from occurring, you know you have made a difference. Addressing a serious risk might not enhance revenues, but on occasion, an internal audit recommendation can even save a life — and an internal audit that does this is an automatic home run in any book.
Operating management seeks out your advice on related or additional issues surfaced in a recent audit report. If you get a call back from operating management asking for additional advice, you can assume your audit was a success. When operating management seeks out your opinions about its operations, it’s likely that your audit hit a home run. But it doesn’t count if someone calls you merely to ask for advice on how to word a response to an audit recommendation.
These aren’t the only indicators that internal audit has hit a home run — in fact, the strongest indicators that an internal audit was successful are often unique to the circumstances of the particular engagement. Of course, if a single audit resulted in all of the outcomes above, chances are that it wasn’t just a home run. It was a “grand slam!”
I would love to hear from you. Do you have real-life examples of a moment when you realized your last internal audit was a success? Let’s share the experience!
Richard Chambers, CIA, CFE, CGFM, QIAL, CRMA, CGAP, is the founder and Chief Executive of Richard F. Chambers and Associates, LLC. From 2009-2021 he served as the president and CEO of The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), the global professional association and standard-setting body for internal auditors. Chambers has more than four decades of experience serving in and on behalf of the internal audit profession.