When you’re running a compliance program, audits come with the territory. However, as the number of audits and assessments continue to rise, they become even more costly and time-consuming to your business. You want to get your audit right AND lower the impact on your business. But how do you do this?
Here are some key steps you should take before you begin the audit planning process, to help get you on the path to audit success:
Define Your Vision
Like any important project, the path to a successful audit starts with the right foundation. And you can’t begin building that foundation until you understand and have agreement on your desired end point. So, the first step is to define what will make the audit successful from your point of view.
Understanding how you view success, as well as understanding the perspective of your auditors, will lead to better understanding and respect for everyone involved in the process. Once your auditors are armed with this information, they’ll be able to do a better job to plan for the audit, as they’ll consider your priorities for success. In addition, you’ll be able to better prepare for what the auditors will need to accomplish for what they view as a successful audit. It’s important to note here that most auditors see success as an audit that is completed in a timely manner, within a given cost constraint, and with an acceptable and low-level of audit risk (aka reaching the right conclusion).
Defining your vision of a successful audit will help provide clarity around priorities, and is the ideal starting point for better communication and planning.
To prepare for a successful audit, you need to ensure you have the right people, processes and tools in place to be secure and in compliance.
A good first step is to organize your GRC data around a “system of record” to provide a single source of truth about your compliance and risk information and activities. This will ensure key information is easy to find and easy to share, making it easy for everyone involved in the audit process to collaborate. It will also demonstrate organizational maturity and strong management oversight, which speak positively about your governance and control environment (and are viewed favorably by auditors!).
Defining your vision and being prepared won’t bring any value to your audit planning process if the details haven’t been communicated to key stakeholders. You, your team and your auditors need to be aligned on all aspects, from your shared vision of success to tactical information such as timing, scope and any potential gaps in your GRC program. You should also confirm if there are any significant changes in the audit approach — or in the business — compared to previous years, to ensure there are no surprises.
In addition to ensuring you are better prepared to begin your audit planning process, this level of communication will help build a better working relationship with your auditors, which is a Win-Win for everyone!
Now that you’re clear on these key steps, you’re ready to begin the audit planning process. To learn more, watch our on-demand webinar: How to Navigate the Path to a Successful Audit.