Enhancing the strategic role of Internal Audit
KPMG’s survey findings show that there is a gap between the expectations from Internal Audit (IA) as a function and the views of internal auditors in the Kingdom of Bahrain. According to a new KPMG in Bahrain study titled ’Bahrain internal audit survey 2018: Enhancing the strategic value of Internal Audit’, more than half of the surveyed IA professionals (65 percent) consider IA to be a support function rather than a strategic player.
The survey report is based on the analysis of responses from IA professionals in the Kingdom of Bahrain, to obtain perspectives on the roles and responsibilities of IA and how they see the role of IA evolving.
IA can play both a strategic and a supportive role within an organization. However, as businesses become more complex and diversified, the IA’s contribution towards day-to-day activities also needs to grow. In today’s dynamic business landscape, organizations must focus on improving operational efficiency and ascertain opportunities that can improve competitiveness and profitability. Internal auditors can play a vital role in shaping corporate strategy by providing value-added insight on risks and opportunities, and ensure continuous improvement.
The survey respondents also revealed their aspiration to see the role of internal auditors evolve into a more strategic role. To achieve that, organizations must engage with the IA function during the development phase of a company’s business strategy. This means that the IA function should reflect a profound understanding of business processes, and be in a position to identify potential issues that could disrupt these processes and devise ways to mitigate them. This is in addition to assessing risk, compliance and controls, and monitoring and reporting potential opportunities that the business is seeking to capitalize on.
According to the report, the future of IA also depends on its ability to embrace emerging technologies. Although digital transformation in IA is in its infancy stage in Bahrain, a majority of the surveyed IA professionals (95 percent) believed that the adoption of technology can trigger greater efficiency.
Jeyapriya Partiban, partner and head of Risk Consulting at KPMG in Bahrain elaborated on the report’s findings and said, “Having had the opportunity to work with clients from across a full spectrum of size, industry and sector; we have been able to witness and experience first-hand as to how the rapid advancements of digitalization, data analytics, and other technologies impact businesses; and more specifically the IA functions and related activities in the marketplace.”
Adapting technology-enabled auditing and monitoring solutions can enhance the timely, ongoing review of financial data and internal control within an organization. Whilst continuous auditing can assist to analyze data for early identification of outliers or risks, continuous monitoring further enables the management team to assess the business against key performance metrics. Also, robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI), can offer auditors the opportunity to be innovative in various areas, such as risk assessment, planning, execution and reporting.
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