Transforming internal audit through critical thinking

Critical thinking is many times a cultural shift for internal audit. It can deliver the value creation being sought, and expand or develop the positive perception of the department across the organization. When implemented, full maturity should reach the point of internal audit being frequently invited to participate on steering committees, task forces, and strategic initiatives.

Critical thinking can be leveraged as a core approach for internal audit to establish itself as a strategic partner within the business, focused on achieving balance between risk management and business performance.

Embedding critical thinking in the audit process can produce the following results:

  • Internal audit will be viewed as a valuable, forward-looking business partner
  • Audit results will be set and measured in tangible returns for the company
  • Stakeholders will frequently request internal audit involvement.

In an uncertain and challenging economy, organizations are seeking an approach to internal audit that goes beyond reviewing past activities. Instead, they want internal audits that are insightful, forward looking, and go beyond preserving value to creating value on a departmental, divisional, or organization-wide level.

To meet these expectations, internal audit leaders must strive to migrate to more advanced stages of maturity that evolve basic auditing processes and skills towards an approach to create value and insight to an organization. Many internal audit functions establish goals to achieve higher value; however, they fall short in one of two ways:

  • The skill sets and competencies of the team are not sufficiently cross- functional or developed in each team member to deliver the expected value
  • The internal audit approach is not redesigned to facilitate a new approach in planning, execution, and reporting of results.