Improving cross-department relationships

How to work better with internal audit

Here’s a question to consider: does anyone like their internal audit (IA) team? Look, I have no idea if it’s true that internal audit teams are avoided and shunned across the board. But I’ve heard a lot of people say that because the IA teams are always the ones that follow the set guidelines, or more accurately, the ones who make sure their company is properly adhering to the set rules and standards, they are disliked. Why? When teams aren’t following the rules and are called out, it can get a little uncomfortable.

A former auditor once told me that when he found problems with the team he was auditing, his stress level would move up many notches. “Oh, no,” he would think to himself. Problems meant he would then have to confront the group and supply recommendations they didn’t want to hear or provide a solution to problems the team didn’t want to solve. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but somehow, he told me, he always got it done.

Because of his example, I have changed the way I look at auditors, one that shines a positive light on not only what they do, but ultimately what their effect is on organizations.

Let’s consider everything auditors do.

Their best work might be getting organizations to simply follow the rules—when they get groups to comply with rules and regulations, I think that’s a super feat in and of itself. But there is far more to being an auditor than just following the rules.

  • Sense of responsibility. They follow the rules and make sure everyone else does as well. Complying means a strong, orderly world.
  • Mastery of major skills. Be it a superpower or a high level of skill with a pertinent science or physical talent, strong team members have that special “something” that sets them apart. Auditors possess an uncanny skill level of lining up rules and regulations and making sense of them when no one else can.
  • Strong moral code. Internal auditors always do the right thing.
  • Answer to a “calling”. Internal auditors almost always have an underlying reason to keep moving ahead.
  • A good backstory. All auditors have a story; ask and they’ll tell you why they love to audit.
  • Exceptional skills and advanced technology. A lot of superheroes have advanced and special weapons at their disposal. Internal auditors also have advanced technology readily available; audit management software.

Internal audit teams provide helpful recommendations

The contracts team of one Onspring customer was going through an internal audit, and it was discovered that they did not have a good central repository for their work. Some of their contracts were in a centralized data share space, others were on a legal team member’s computer and still more documents were scattered across the email system. After its initial assessment, the internal audit team found there was no easy or fast way to logistically find contracts and other documents in a workable way using their current method, and needless to say, it was a big problem.

Regardless of the problems with the disconnected items and documents, it didn’t take the internal audit team long to come up with a solution that corrected the problem. Based on their findings, the internal audit team recommended contacting Onspring to look at its contract management solution—the internal audit team already used the company’s internal audit management software. They knew Onpsring would be able to help the contracts team because they had used the audit solution for several years.

The value of Onspring’s contracts solution, coupled with the power of its overall platform, was exactly what the company needed to pull its contracts team out of their non-compliant state. The internal audit team and their keen sense of making things right saved the day.

Improving internal audit capacity

What’s more important, the software or the internal auditor? A great auditor might be able to make things work without a technologically-advanced software, but a good audit management software tool will make the auditor great, and make great things possible for their team and organization.

I’ve been in enterprise software—governance, risk and compliance, GRC—since 2005. The thing is, it’s gotten easier for me because the product that I’m connected to now, Onspring, lines up with a lot of the companies’ defined processes. It also lines up with making things easier for internal auditors. Onspring can be shaped to fit any type of work process across every type of solution. I don’t want to say that we have the power to make superheroes out of auditing teams, but…

The bottom line is that our auditing solution can help auditors and their teams succeed in ways they didn’t think was possible. And the next time you need an auditor, treat them accordingly. Treat them like you really like them.

About the author

Kyle Graves Vice President Sales Onspring GRC Software

Kyle Graves
Vice President at Onspring
15 years internal audit & GRC experience