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Mind of Jacka: But First, a Few Questions…

Mind of Jacka Mike Jacka, CIA, CPA, CPCU, CLU Aug 11, 2022

Imagine you're an independent contractor who has accepted a job working with an internal audit department. You will lead the audit project, supported by the department's staff. What questions would you ask before starting? (Perhaps, before even accepting.)

What is the objective, purpose, and scope? Will any of those change as the project progresses? Are you sure?

Are the right people and assets in place already? Will the budget change? Will the number of support staff, number of audit hours, or travel budget be cut? If something is found which warrants extra work, will resources be made available?

Come to think of it, has a budget been established?

Has this audit ever been done before? Has anything close to it been done before? Has this department/division/operation ever been audited before?

Come to think of it, does the client even know who internal audit is?

Which is more important, timeliness or quality? (And "both" is not an acceptable answer.)

How involved does the CAE/AVP/Director want to be? How much, how often? Who else will insist on being involved?

What are the incentives for the people working on the project? No, not pay; rather, what are the intangibles that will make them care? Is this about development? Is this about training? Will this get them greater visibility within the department, with the client, or with the organization? Or is this assignment considered punishment?

Who else is involved? Who are the individuals being reviewed? Have they all been identified? Have they all been notified? Do they understand the roles and responsibilities of the audit department? Do they even know what it means to be "audited"? (Yes, this was asked above. Yes, it is being asked again.)

Are the clients advocates or adversaries? Has anything been done about that?

What other surprises will be in store?

Here's the rub. How many of these questions do you ask before starting your own audit project?

Mike Jacka, CIA, CPA, CPCU, CLU

Co-founder and Chief Creative Pilot, Flying Pig Audit, Consulting, and Training Services (FPACTS), based in Phoenix.