Many forces are driving extensive organizational transformation and, in turn, disrupting internal audit. Out of sheer necessity, organizations have made decisions faster, collaborated better, adopted new technologies faster and even eradicated long-standing hierarchies and silos. But the challenge now is to sustain those improvements over the long term.
Defining a clear approach for the future of work will likely be critical, with a focus not only on the digital technologies required, but also on strengthening internal trust, leading with empathy, re-inventing relationships with employees and managing diverse blended workforces and workplaces. All of it needs to be supported by a clear purpose and values to help ensure that employees remain motivated.
Rising to these demands requires new thinking and value proposition with a different lens on how the enterprise earns and maintains the trust of its stakeholders, changes in mindset, new capabilities, and new delivery models. Additionally, internal audit is compelled to work more efficiently, creating more value by providing actionable insights in less time with potentially limited resources.
To meet these raised expectations of stakeholders, internal audit should aim to be more dynamic, data-driven, and enabled by technology than ever before.
The future Chief Audit Executive (CAE) Agenda
Stakeholder engagement and trust
Internal audit knows its top stakeholders and invests the time needed to foster a relationship of trust attuned to their needs. Through having a relationship of trust, internal audit is included in high-level value-add conversations as a strategic risk advisor or problem solver. To adequately act as such, internal audit makes the resource commitment to address ad-hoc requests by the business.
Strategy and value management
Internal audit strategy considers a mix of enhanced assurance, risk insights and business improvements attuned to stakeholder needs. Strategically important and future-focused emerging risks are prioritized. Internal audit moves from being problem finders to also problem solvers.
New ways of working
To move into a more strategic, advisory role to management, alongside its assurance objectives, internal audit departments may adapt the profile of the typical candidate they hire into internal audit. Hiring profiles will likely include a mix of strategic, behavioral and data utilization and technology skills alongside internal audit technical skills.
Operating model agility
The internal audit operating model should leverage a more agile and dynamic approach to respond to the organization’s changing risk landscape. It should also deliver on its value promise, to protect and enhance organizational value. Agile inspired approaches are gaining momentum across the entire internal audit life cycle.
Data, analytics, and insights
The use of data analytics continues to be a powerful tool for the internal audit function to help assess risk and provide insights. That way, it can assist management decision-making on process improvements and control effectiveness.
Internal audit supports business objectives for digital acceleration through AI controls and assurance over digital initiatives and transformation. Internal audit technology should also be selected with organizational goals in mind to provide as much integration and synergy as possible. Lastly, audit work is enabled via automation and technology at program and project levels.
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