Starting an internal audit function requires a clear and inspiring vision to provide the right direction for its success.
The services provided by the internal audit role must add value and meet the needs of all its customers, at every level in the organization. This demands a wealth of knowledge and experience of risk management, control, and governance processes in the function.
The internal audit charter approved at board level must state the professional standards expected from all staff in the function.
Internal auditors in the function should be trained to ask the right questions and advise on the impact of present and future change at all levels in the organization, from strategic to operational.
Quality of performance in the function and its continuous improvement requires a total commitment, measured and reported at board level through key performance indicators, and feedback from its customers.
The function should contribute to implementation of quality policies in the organization it serves by using its own experience of achieving performance quality.
In 1998 on the occasion of the fifty-year celebration of the establishment of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)’s five chapters in the United Kingdom, I wrote:1
“We need to be seen as innovators in the world of regulation, control and auditing. Creativity, innovation and experimentation are now key to our professional success. They must be the vision of all internal auditing functions. This means improving old and developing new products and services for delighted customers, with a focus on their objectives. This means being at the leading edge in all the markets in which we sell our internal auditing services. This means beating our competitors and knowing who these are. This means having the imagination, and foresight into what our organizations will require from us, not just in the year 2000, but also in 2005 and beyond.
In this 50th year celebration of our national institute’s past and present teamwork, all IIA-UK [and Ireland] members should continue to set their sights on being inventors of an improved and new internal auditing, to delight all their customers … and increase its status as an international profession.”
Establishing a successful internal audit function requires more than just support and resources approved at board and senior management levels; or an external requirement by government and regulators; or encouragement by external auditors. These are all important drivers and influences for creating the function and setting the boundaries in which it will operate and provide services. But the present and future demands of a successful function require a clear and inspiring vision for the direction of its services, which can only be provided by those who work in the function. It demands their knowledge and experience of risk management, control, and governance processes; their professionalism; their imagination, innovation, and creativity to manage change in what is and will be required from their services. All these attributes are needed if these service providers are to delight all their customers by the quality of their performance. They are needed whether internal auditing is resourced by staff in-house, outsourced, or co-sourced.
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