When you’re running a compliance program, audits come with the territory. Costly and time-consuming, you want to make sure you get your audit right and deliver successful results.
But how do you ensure your audit is successful?
And what can you do — if anything — to demonstrate to your auditors that you’re ready, prepared and can deliver?
In our recent webinar Get Ahead of Your Audit Process, Reciprocity Director of GRC Services Dave Schmoeller breaks down three simple steps you can take to ensure your company is on the path to audit success:
Step 1: Visualize Your Success
Visualization techniques have been used by successful people to achieve their desired goals for ages. And believe it or not, one of the best ways to get ahead of your audit process is to do the same thing.
Before doing anything else, consider your relationships within the organization. Then contemplate what a successful audit will look like. For instance, If leadership is concerned about interruptions to “business as usual,” then possibly a successful audit is one that doesn’t create any distractions for employees, business partners or customers. Or perhaps they just want the audit done as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible. Or maybe the only audit expectation is that you deliver a clear, concise list of issues that can be easily addressed with an appropriate action plan. Regardless of what they want, it’s your responsibility to plan for — and deliver — a successful audit.
Unfortunately, people often skip this step and go straight to the planning phase of their audit. Visualizing your success and then identifying how to achieve it will have a huge impact on your plan and is something you should communicate to your auditor early on in the process. Which brings us to our next step …
Step 2: Communicate with Your Auditor
No one plans for an audit to have problems. Yet they happen. And then they have to be fixed, which adds more time, costs and, ultimately, headaches to the process. But if you proactively communicate with your auditor, you can prevent those problems from happening in the first place.
Share your organization’s vision for a successful audit and collaborate on how it can be achieved — before the audit begins. Discuss what type of evidence your auditor will need and when they’ll need it. Show them your willingness to make the entire process as efficient as possible, including the audit tools you’ll use to provide the control procedures and automated workflows that will ensure a single source of proof.
Take all of these details and use them to create a plan that anticipates your auditors needs, as well as aligns with their process. The easier it is for them to get the necessary evidence, as and when they need it, the more you will enable them to efficiently — and successfully — complete the audit.
Step 3: Plan Ahead
As part of the planning process, it’s also important for you to build a relationship with your auditor before the audit actually starts. Do a bit of self-assessment and identify where you’ve had problems in the past. Then check in with them to discuss what did or didn’t go so well during the last audit. Solicit their advice regarding what you can do to make things easier for them (and for you) in the coming year.
When you review the findings from last year, let them know if you find any gaps. Sharing this type of feedback will strengthen their confidence that you’re on top of things, and that when issues do arise, you’ll be the first to address them completely, correctly and on a timely basis. Doing this will make them that much more likely to make decisions in your favor when they come to one of those inevitable gray areas.
We all know how time consuming and costly audits can be, so it’s important to get them right. By bringing organization and intention to your audit process using the steps above, you’ll reduce the stress on your organization (and yourself!) while showing your auditors that you’re prepared and ready to meet your audit goals.
To learn more about how you can get on the path to audit success, check out our webinar Get Ahead of Your Audit Process.