Internal Audit: Trends in 2021

Devi Narayanan
Apr 2, 2021
4
Minutes

The primary role of auditors is to help the organization remain compliant and meet its objectives efficiently. The growing and changing needs of stakeholders, crisis management requirements, and uncertainty have widened the scope of internal audits. In response to these requirements, new trends have emerged in the field of internal audit that will add value to the organization and guide it through the landscape of risks.

Here are some of the new trends in Internal Auditing:

Holistic approach towards auditing

Disruptions, threats, uncertainty, and changes are part of today's organizations. Starting from cyber-attacks, climate change to supply chain disruptions, organizations face numerous challenges. They need a resilient approach, frameworks, and mechanisms to bounce back when dealt with unexpected risks. Internal auditing should assume bigger responsibilities beyond just evaluating the company's compliance challenges, fraud detection, and reporting in this environment. Internal auditing should take on a central strategic role in an organization and provide insights to the management to run the organization efficiently. It should provide guidance to govern risks, stays compliant, and implement an operational resilience strategy.

Remote audit

The pandemic has forced companies to go remote. And, at least for some companies, the trend is remote from now on. Similar to other functions, audit functions need to resort to tools that overcome communication and availability challenges. The adoption of communication technologies enable audit evidence collection, review of records, and report generation to support audit conclusion. The companies must conduct risk assessment and document the outcomes achieved through remote auditing. Internal audit must take up a proactive role by giving insights concerning different risks, challenging practices, processes, and the organization's overall risk landscape.

Build agility in audit

Audit teams need to agile to keep up with the increasing pressures of the organizations. They should let go of their rigid practices and long audit cycles, instead, focus on the organization's present needs, respond to quickly to changing risks, adopt short and accelerated audit cycles, and fewer documentation requirements. Agile auditing empowers auditors to prioritize audits based on its importance and provide long standing value.

Innovative audit techniques

While many companies are looking at technology specific to audit function, others already invested in technology are expanding the role of automation and analytics. Audit automation simplify the process of constructing new audits and creating new checklists. It ensures that non-compliances and weak areas are properly addressed. Thanks to advanced machine learning techniques, auditors are gaining invaluable insights by accurately analyzing mass amounts of information, saving time and money.  Meanwhile, advanced analytics can shed light on new risk patterns, anomalies, internal control gaps, or opportunities. They help internal auditors improve the scope and quality of their work, while also delivering better insights to stakeholders.

Organizations use GRC tools such as VComply to conduct audit programs, schedule audit checklists, and issue audit report. The advantage of such a tool is that you can monitor and improve upon control systems and areas of risk in an ongoing manner and in real time too. Moreover, you govern your business better as you are no longer working in silos and with spreadsheets, but organization-wide, with customized software. VComply, for instance, allows you to schedule tests, classify incidents, track progress and more. Now that you are aware of the basics of conducting an internal audit, venture forth to create a robust and consistent business process!  

About the author

Devi drives growth through content at VComply. When she isn't writing, she's either reading, or traveling.

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