Preparation is the key to an effective, thorough and a value-added internal audits program. Internal auditors cannot be content by preparing for the audit not by giving sufficient time to achieve their objectives. They will be required to have enough time on their hands to prepare for the job ahead. They should be aware about the fact that if the audit is expected to last for a couple of hours, the preparation for the job will take at least 2 1/2 times the amount of time. Therefore, they will be required to allot sufficient time for the preparation without which they are likely to run out of questions before the completion of the audit.
It is quite easy to comment about the time needed for the audit but in reality, is quite difficult, especially for the auditors. The time restrictions placed on them are the major obstacles they face when they decide to allocate enough time and prepare for the job they are required to complete. It is quite possible for them to have other responsibilities than internal auditing competing for the time available with them. In such conditions auditors will do well to follow the example by many trained internal auditors and learn how to spread their workload. This will lead to better preparation and completion of the audit as required by the laws.
Effective planning for internal auditing requires auditors to follow some steps, which are simple and will allow them to perform their duties effectively. Auditors must be prepared to understand how they can allocate the time needed to manage such tasks in the best manner. They cannot be under the impression that they will be able to handle such issues within a short time. They will be required to allocate some time even for the learning of the simple steps that have been mentioned below:
- They will have to learn the process.
- They have to identify with the interfaces within the standard.
- They need to understand proper compliance to the standard and also to identify with process interfaces and potential process failure modes.
- Reviewing old audits, developing audit questions and the audit plan will also be a requirement, which they will not be able to ignore.
They are required to become familiar with the process before they begin to audit the same. They need to know the working of the process, what the objectives are, what are the outputs, inputs, activities, resources and controls. The amount of knowledge they need to collect is vast and can make an ordinary individual feel he or she may not be suitable to the task. However, these are requirements, which will have to be overcome by people who have decided to get into the business of internal auditing.
Understanding a process alone will not be of any help unless the auditor is willing to consider his or her role within the process of auditing. It is absolutely necessary for them to be fully prepared to conduct the audit in an impartial manner by looking for any information provided with an open mind. It is a foregone conclusion that they will not be able to complete their job effectively if they are not fully aware of their responsibilities and the way they are required to conduct themselves.
Auditors will be required not to forget their role as the guardians of the process they are required to audit. They should be making every attempt to energize their internal auditing program by getting all the information they need and performing their roles to the best of their knowledge.