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Top Ten Internal Audit Bete Noires – Countdown 5 to 1. October 10, 2009

Posted by Audit Monkey in The Joy & Pain of Internal Audit.
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The more observant will have noticed I’m on a bit of a ‘blogging’ roll today. Audit Monkey is finding this rather cathartic.

5. Auditing the Impenetrable/Nothing of Value to Audit/Auditing the Bloody Pointless

It’s on the audit plan, there is no escape. Resistance is futile, the audit has your name on it.  Yes, we’ve all been there, your manager has requested you audit some obscure system which is materiality insignificant, doesn’t feature on anyone’s risk radar but it has to be done. This said, I occasionally come across the odd gem of an audit finding after exhaustive inquiries but none spring to mind!

4. Working with Intellectually Challenged Colleagues

Ah, the memories. Unfortunately these are bad ones. I worked with a couple of clowns from my days in public sector internal auditing. Sorry, I miscounted, a lot of clowns but two stick out. Even if they were employed as clowns, Billie Smart (a famous Circle Owner), would have had issues.

Some highlights. One clown, BoKo, decided to reorder and remove certain test schedules from a standard payroll audit porgramme, I suspect because he was incapable of performing the actual work. As for BoKo’s friend, BoZo, Audit Supervisor, he just lied and delegated the work to others. This would not be the first time I would encounter this behaviour.

In this light, it is understandable that the Big 4 auditing firms place so much emphasis on academic achievement as it is an indication of future competence. Moreover, one has to be reasonably intelligent to understand the systems you are auditing.

All this probably results in 3.

3. Disorganisation, A Very Thin Brief

In one word, fatal. I hate not knowing what I’m doing. There have been circumstances where I have been parachuted in to assist a colleague (BoKo and BoZo spring to mind) only to find that negligible planning work had been performed, and the proposed testing was based on incomplete information and assumptions.  In moments like this, I wish to ground would swallow me up.

On another review, the planning phase of the audit had been performed by a colleague who didn’t fully understand the mainframe systems and the particular process being reviewed.   Hence the planning was inadequate but it was down to Audit Monkey to complete the fieldwork.  As a consequence, I spent more time ‘back filling’, completing additional planning to get the work to an adequate standard and performing additional tests that weren’t originally scheduled.

However, it is important to do the work completely as one is providing assurance that a system is working satisfactorily.  The other reason is purely selfish. If you make a mistake or aren’t sufficiently thorough, things have a nasty habit of coming back and biting you on the rear.

2. Mission Creep, also known as ‘The Never Ending Audit’

This stems from poor organisation or poor planning or intellectually challenged colleagues or a combination of the two. I used to be a fan of ‘broad as a barn door’ Terms of Reference for audits to allow flexibility but now my opinion has changed as the boundaries of the audit are not fixed. In consequence, you can end up auditing to the cows come home.

1. Plagarism

Yes, this has happened to me. I wrote an e-mail to the Head of Audit detailing the progress and audit findings arising from the implementation of a key finance project and copied in my colleagues. My Supervisor, used the same e-mail (probably because he could write as eloquently as Audit Monkey) to report out to the Director of Finance but in his name only. I was not credited (sic) even though I had performed the work.  Needless to say, when it was time to report out again on the same project, Audit Monkey was not so accommodating and the Supervisor’s report lacked some ‘je ne sais quoi’.

Moral of the story, it just shows you what people will do to advance their careers. Though there is some Karma to this story as the Supervisor in question is unlikely to work ever again due to a subsequent deterioration in his health. C’est la vie.

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