Readers of my blogs will know that I often draw attention to new thought leadership on the internal audit profession. I recently highlighted some timely benchmarking data from The IIA. Over the years, there have been countless research reports, surveys and opinion pieces published that have served to advance the profession. The global business consulting firm, Protiviti, recently, published the findings from its 2023 Next-Generation Internal Audit Survey. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the results.
As Protiviti’s headline declares – “Internal audit’s path to continued delivery of value and relevance is strongly tied to adopting innovative approaches to talent, and technology enablement…” I suspect most of us would agree with that assessment – no surprise there. But when asked to identify which area contributes the most to making an internal audit function relevant, I didn’t expect the answer Protiviti received. The top-rated answer from CAEs who were surveyed: “using high-impact reporting to deliver and communicate value.” I have long believed that high-impact report was an underutilized strategy for winning and sustaining the support of internal auditor’s stakeholders. So it was reassuring to me that CAE’s agree.
High-impact reporting was rated the most important contributor to relevance, beating out several other options:
|1||Using high-impact reporting to deliver and communicate value||24%|
|2||Upskilling resources and talent to diversify team member competencies||19%|
|3||Embracing continuous monitoring to accelerate reporting and reflect business changes||19%|
|4||Using agile risk assessments to align with business strategies||17%|
|5||Enabling technology to advance audit quality and efficiency||10%|
|6||Leveraging advanced analytics to confirm more real-time risk identification||9%|
I was particularly encouraged by CAEs’ recognition of the importance of high impact reporting because it aligns with a critical theme I have been advocating for the profession in recent months: the need to find our voice, and use it! As the Protiviti report notes, “Top-performing internal audit groups share similar traits – They focus more on streamlined, tailored, impactful communications and reporting, they evolve and adapt routinely, and they push themselves to find and build talent and resources from both within and outside their organizations.”
I have long advocated that timeliness is a critical factor in the impact internal audit communications make in the organizations they serve. Afterall, even the best crafted audit reports are of little value if they are delivered too late to make a difference. Protiviti agrees. As they note: “High-impact reporting is about timeliness, as well as both form and content, customizing the reporting communication to the audience to ensure stakeholders ranging from control operators to executives and board members have the information they need, when they need it, to allow for quick and quality analysis and decision-making.”
I also strongly agree with Protiviti’s assertion that “high-impact reporting should extend beyond audit reports to all other internal audit communication touchpoints, including planning memos, status checkpoints, advisory and consulting activities, audit committee decks, executive summaries, and risk assessment reporting.” Those who have attended my “Auditing at the Speed of Risk” and “Becoming an Internal Audit Trusted Advisor” seminars will attest that high-impact communications are a recurring theme when defining success for 21st century internal auditors.
A blog can only scratch the surface when communicating the valuable content in a report like Protiviti’s “2023 Next-Generation Internal Audit Survey.” So, I encourage readers to access the content and digest it for themselves. But beware – if you are looking for a single document containing all of the results, you will be disappointed. Instead, in the spirit of high-impact communications, Protiviti has organized the survey’s results in easily accessed and digestible modules on such topics as:
My hat is off to my friends at Protiviti for this outstanding contribution to internal audit’s body of knowledge.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.