From our early and tentative responses to COVID-19, we moved to rapid closure of borders, significant organisational and operating model change, and mass societal hibernation. Organisations and their internal auditors were asked to adapt and change at unprecedented pace.
Looking forward, we now have the opportunity to harness lessons learnt and retain legacy benefits from COVID-19 to position ourselves for the future. This article considers our long-term predictions for internal audit functions in the ‘new normal’, while contemplating areas for internal audit professionals to consider in the near future, to continue providing value to organisations.
COVID-19 has disrupted internal audit significantly – both how we execute our work, as well as the type of work we have been asked to perform. Organisations are asking internal audit to leverage this disruption, to support the move to a more resilient and innovative future operating model.
We make four predictions for internal audit, to recognise and retain the positive shifts from COVID-19 disruption.
In Mike Jacka’s recent blog post for the IIA, he mused that we’ve been interested in, but struggling with, the issues of data, analytics, and technology for over a quarter of a century.
COVID-19 forced the rapid uptake and implementation of critical controls monitoring by many internal audit functions – underpinned and enabled by repeated and remote data analytics. This provides the required momentum for internal audit to continue driving data analytics.
Gone are the days of beautifully crafted, long and time-consuming internal audit reports. These have thankfully been replaced with targeted planning, shorter, sharper internal audit reviews and increased collaboration with auditees. Examples of these continued changes include the following:
Throughout COVID-19, we’ve seen internal audit provide timely and valued assistance to their organisations, beyond the scope of their annual internal audit plan. Internal audit functions will likely continue to be called upon to provide proactive assistance to organisations, in an ‘Advisor’ capacity. This may include the following:
Internal audit has demonstrated its ability to adapt quickly to new technologies. Technology will become a core skillset for auditing as we see organisations embrace automation and technology solutions even more than they had pre-COVID-19. The following should be considered.
It's important that we innovate and prepare for the new world for internal audit, post COVID-19 – harnessing the benefits from recent changes and using these as a platform for transformation. However, internal audit still needs to support near-term business priorities providing critical assistance during organisational response and recovery.
Internal audit should continue to provide timely and meaningful support, as it has for the last couple of months.
Practical areas for internal audit to add value as organisations look forward include the following.
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