In a recent article, Richard Chambers, IIA CEO, identified the following “Five Classic Myths About Internal Auditing”
- Internal auditors are accountants by training.
- Auditors are nit-pickers and fault-finders.
- It’s best not to tell the auditors anything unless they specifically ask.
- Internal auditors follow a cycle in selecting their audit “targets” and use standard checklists so they can audit the same things the same way each time.
- Internal audit is the corporate “police function.”
These “myths” are spot on. But how do we overcome these myths. It is not easy, but here are some of my thoughts:
Myth #1 Internal auditors are accountants by training.
To overcome this myth, create a diverse staff. Hire individuals with diverse backgrounds. Hospital auditors do it all the time. Many have Registered Nurses on staff who perform anything from billing and coding audits to hospital operation audits.
Train alongside your clients when possible. Your clients train to become better at what they do. So should you. While audit specific training is definitely important, so are your client’s specific tasks. For example, if you are an auditor for a trucking company, occasionally ride along with drivers or consider learning how to drive a big rig.
I am currently in higher education. Upon entering the industry, one of my first tasks was to enroll in a course. I need to experience our services as a customer. This “on the job training” was very valuable.
Myth #2 Auditors are nit-pickers and fault-finders.
Well, part of what we do is to evaluate environments. The focus is on preserving, protecting and continuous improvement. We must communicate this in our actions. Therefore, it is important to prioritize projects and issues we present to management. Keeping the end goal in mind (i.e. the betterment of the organization) can help reduce this myth.
Myth #3 It’s best not to tell the auditors anything unless they specifically ask.
This helps none in the long run. It is up to us to build a relationship based on trust and respect so that our clients can have honest and open dialog with us. This is one of the hardest myths to overcome because there is no quick solution. We must develop our soft skills and use them effectively.
Myth #4 Internal auditors follow a cycle in selecting their audit “targets” and use standard checklists so they can audit the same things the same way each time.
This perception/myth can be broken by simply changing the way we audit. If the audit plan includes the same areas, then our clients will believe myth #4. To overcome this, do something different. Get out of your comfort zone. Try auditing something in your organization that you have never touched before. For example, try auditing your organizations social media strategy and operations. This is a fairly new risk facing many organizations. An audit done right in this area can disprove myths 1 and 4.
Myth #5 Internal audit is the corporate “police function.”
Shattering this myth is easy. This is probably the only easy one on the list. Simply put, check your attitude. Present yourself as a collaborative partner through your actions and you will become one.