The building blocks of adopting agile audit

Linda Nyvelius

May 1, 2023

Our partner Wolters Kluwer have recently published a document as a guide for internal audit departments looking to adopt a more agile approach.

This reminds me of an anecdote from a few years ago. I was at a dinner after an event in Stockholm, at a table with 7 CAE:s from different organisations. The topic drifted into agile approached and one CAE mentioned how she saw the approach as the future of the profession and the only way forward. Suddenly, another CAE who is usually quiet turned around and proclaimed “I hate agile. It has nothing to do with internal auditing.”.

For anyone who has worked in Sweden, you know that it is a conflict-avoiding culture and such strong comments are quite unusual. But it sparked up an interesting conversation! We spent the next hour discussing back and forth, everything from annoying and unhelpful buzzwords to value-adding flexible plans adapting to the changing environments and risks.

In the end, we could all agree on a few things:

  • Regardless of what you call it – agile, flexible, adaptable – the days of setting a plan once a year and never changing it is long gone. Internal audit departments have to have a process for adapting the audit plan to changing environments.
  • Any attempt at implementing an agile approach by only making superficial changes is inevitably going to fail. Agile is not just a buzzword to be thrown around or a scrum-board in the office.
  • Being agile does not mean throwing all processes and plans out the window. Quite the opposite: the higher the demands are on flexibility, the more important it is to have robust processes and plans to fall back on when the premises for the original plans are changed.

If implemented properly, adapting an agile approach to auditing can be a powerful tool to increase the value provided for the organisation, by providing timely and accurate information to stakeholders, enabling risk-based decision-making. To achieve this, it is vital to adapt a holistic approach to the internal audit department. This means taking all aspects into account: Strategy, Structure, People, Processes, and Technology.

Would you like to know more about how to implement an agile approach in your audit department? Feel free to contact me or my colleagues. A good start is to read the Wolters Kluwer report, available here.

Do you want to know how we at BR1GHT can help your internal audit department become more efficient and effective? Read all about our Internal Audit proposition area here.

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