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Managing Your Internal Audit Environment During the COVID-19 Crisis

by Cristiano Brandalese

In the current volatility, are chief auditors who remain tied to an annual audit plan doing a disservice to their organizations? Redefining their audit plan can help them support management in addressing reprioritized risks and goals.

Here are some tips on what internal audit (IA) teams can do:

  1. Start by ensuring that the team is safe and can work remotely.
  2. Ask management, “How can we help?”
    • Meet with key members of management to reassess the enterprise risk assessment.
    • Update the entity’s top risks and define remediation plans for newly identified or prioritized risks.
    • Maintain a “working” document that can be updated as new changes take place.
    • Leverage the IA team’s unique skills, perspective and knowledge of the processes to help the company assess and respond to the new risk landscape.
  3. Review the resourcing plan to identify the specific skills required to effectively respond to newly posed risks.
  4. Aid management in assessing the company’s business continuity plan and whether current and/or potential COVID-19 and recession-related events have been considered.
  5. Consider redefining the audit approach in certain areas, for example, prioritizing internal audit projects where process owners’ involvement is minimal and data analytics tools can be highly leveraged to reduce the audit’s burden on the company’s personnel. Initiate feasibility studies to expand the use of automation and data analytics in other areas.
  6. Identify ways for the organization to cut costs to avoid layoffs by focusing on a combination of smaller reductions, such as eliminating pay increases and reducing unnecessary spending, rather than larger, disruptive changes.
  7. Front-load planning activities for future audits.
  8. Focus on those activities to streamline the audit process that have always been put on the back burner due to competing priorities (e.g., tool implementation, review of charters, internal procedures, etc.).

For more information on keeping your business running during disruption, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.

March 31, 2020

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Author
Cristiano Brandalese, Risk Assurance & Advisory, San Ramon CA
Managing Director
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