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ACCA UK’s Internal Audit network panel regularly consults its members on topics that are of particular interest at a given point in time. At the moment, it is recognised that the impact of COVID-19 is having a big effect on internal auditing. We cannot afford gold-plated auditing or controls anymore. Also, we can't afford to go through the motions of doing assignments that made sense at one point in time when things have changed significantly as a result of COVID-19.
The following article looks at how to manage internal audit assignments from a practical perspective in the current context. Specifically, it looks at the work programmes required in the current environment where lean and agile auditing is increasingly expected. It also considers some fundamental questions about what we mean by reasonable assurance.
It's not every day that an internal audit article starts with a quote from Lenin. But here it is: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” This was written just before the Russian Revolution in 1917 but is timely in the coronavirus pandemic era. The pandemic's impact has been profound and has impacted governance risk management and Control (GRC) activities and external and internal auditors' work.
This new era demands that internal auditors work on issues that really matter and quickly provide insights with practical solutions. Clearly, this means that the internal audit (IA) function needs to carry out a much more dynamic planning process. It also means that the day-to-day work programmes and testing in audit assignments need to change as well. This explains the considerable impetus behind IA becoming a trusted advisor, as well as lean/agile ways of auditing, and leveraging data analytics.
However, as readers will appreciate, responding to changing demands in a compressed timescale creates its own risks. Specifically, for IA teams, we might forget some of the fundamentals that underpin our profession's credibility. The trick is to balance the need to be more lean and agile with IA standards. This short article will seek to outline some of the evolving practices that achieve this.