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Internal audit, what's management not telling you?

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Internal audit, what's management not telling you?
January 23, 2015

With planning season just around the corner and the increased pressure on internal audit teams, it's more important than ever to examine how you work with your management team.

In a recent video, IIA President and CEO Richard Chambers reviewed the top five things management is reluctant to say to internal auditors.

If management doesn’t believe you understand the business, it may discount your recommendations and not come to you. Open the lines of communication—set up meetings to bring both teams together, discuss key issues critical to the business, and get on the same page.

Take a step back, and review at the information you're presenting to management. Do you have more to say about the past than the future? The audit committee report should look primarily to the future as you develop risk-based auditing.

We hear it too often—internal audit is duplicating the work of other individuals and departments in the organization—which means waning support of your efforts. Examine the roles, responsibilities, and effectiveness of your team versus other assurance providers in the organization to keep duplication to a minimum.

Think before you speak, and make sure everything you say is balanced and unbiased. Chambers suggests including a section called "management's accomplishments" to discuss what's being done well—helping to remind the organization that you notice the good things happening, too.

Even if management doesn't agree with your opinion, it may do so to appease your team. It's not about winning arguments. Instead, focus on changing the perception of the situation and internal audit.

  1. You don’t understand the business
  2. You provide value by focusing on the future, not the past
  3. You're duplicating work
  4. You have nothing good to say
  5. We agree, so you’ll go away

Improving communications between management and internal audit will only improve your planning process. "Consider reaching out to someone you trust on your management team," Chambers suggests. Building relationships between the two teams will help avoid damage to internal audit's reputation.

Mike Starr
Vice President, Governmental and Regulatory Affairs
Workiva

About the Author

Mike Starr is Vice President of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs. He previously served as the SEC Chief Accountant’s advisor with a focus on investors’ financial information needs and the role of structured data in meeting those needs. Prior to his work with the SEC, Mike served as Chief Operating Officer for Grant Thornton International Ltd., where he oversaw global strategy and public policy. He earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Oklahoma State University (OSU), and in 2010 was recognized as an OSU distinguished accounting alumnus and inducted into the School of Accounting Hall of Fame.

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