Like no case in recent years, COVID-19 has significantly illuminated the need for most, if not all roles around the organisation to be flexible and technologically empowering to overcome our post-pandemic world beyond survival and, most importantly, flourish. Auditing and accounting are also going through the same process.
As the Internal Audit has progressed in recent years, the complexities of how the internal audit role remains a reliable advisor to companies have been illustrated. These internal audit functions that have been able to help their businesses handle the pandemic risk successfully are driven by three core values – strength, flexibility and the ability to preserve economic performance.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted populations, cultures, institutions and economies around the world. There is also a great deal of confusion as to when cultures return to something that comes as normality. As companies fight against adverse consequences and transition internally to prolonged life and activities, important steps have to be taken into account by the internal audit functions. The internal audit roles ought to take effective action in accordance with their staff, their practices and their policies to continue serving their mission, add value, safeguard customers and prevent hindering the organisation's efforts to adapt.
Internal audit historically provided audit reports after the audit fieldwork was done, and thus problems which need immediate management intervention may have been comparatively slow to fix. Indeed, internal audit must constantly pose management concerns by intermediate reports or memoranda during the audit. In addition, the internal auditors must pay more attention to their public by writing concisely-oriented audit reports with an emphasis on handling.
Supporting the team
Heads of Internal Audit are liable in the first place for providing the assistance they need for their employees, whether locally or globally dispersed. Both staff members should be aware of and reaffirm corporate procedures to ensure the health of workers and their families several weeks before the pandemic. Internal audit managers should offer accountability by explaining openly and consistently the consequences on the organisation, the role itself and with all of them the path forward. They can also periodically consult about the new procedures and job practises needed to respond to changing circumstances.
Group participants have numerous obstacles, conflicts and transition approach based on personal and professional situations. Agility and versatility are important in this environment to allow team members to fulfil their roles.
Traditionally, internal audit professionals have performed their annual risk analyses and hence have created their external audit strategy. However, more frequent risk reviews-quarterly or on an on-going basis-aim to further ensure that the annual evaluation plans represent existing challenges in order to meet stakeholder expectations. This resilience has been critical in helping the organisation's internal auditors in these volatile periods where companies need fast reports on risk evaluations and regular audit plans in order to resolve the market, economic and health threats associated with global pandemic.
Managing the cost
Global auditors are continually forced to do better. To that end, internal auditors must use data analytics more to boost the quality of their audits. Through gaining an understanding of the data, the internals will then evaluate data to search for correlations that define which problem needs urgent attention by using mathematical data to visualisations. This was emphasised during the global pandemic when auditors tried to perform their home audits and discovered that the analyses of data allowed them to do so with zero face-to-face contacts.
For certain organisations, the effect of COVID-19 was both spontaneous and unexpected, and it would be unwise to treat it as a particular one-off occurrence. Organizations take action to deal with the pandemic effect and may plan financial and institutional robustness to deal with potential global destructive events. Internal audit should, as a trusted advisor, ensure that all activities and strategies are comprehensive and rigorous enough.