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A Lousy Week November 11, 2011

Posted by Audit Monkey in The Joy & Pain of Internal Audit.
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Had a bit of a lousy time this week. Being doing a rather dry audit which has required the use of the little grey cells. This is rather unfortunate as the grey cells are awfully rusty as they don’t get used very much. The problem is two fold. The lack of mental stimuli at work is a concern; it illustrates how intellectually vacuous auditing is and how my brain has turned into an amorphous blob. This is a sad state of affairs. As I’ve voiced before, I don’t think there is much to internal auditing. There is no specialist knowledge and very little analytical work; (incidentally, you only have to go to an IIA conference to see how brain-dead Internal Auditors are), and the fruits of my labour seems to add to the bureaucratic burden which besets business.

For instance, every control weakness I’ve found on my audit this week is due to the lack of documentation or the evidencing of control. Is this problem? My answer is no. Why? Because everything was being done on spreadsheets and you have some very clever people looking after them and looking at the outputs. Yeah sure, sometimes there may be the odd error but these guys weren’t fools; any cock-up was going to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. So wadda I do? Do I come out with a banal recommendation about evidencing review and bang on about corporate governance controls? They aren’t interested, and for that matter, nor am I.

I do feel my career is treading water. It does seem irrespective of the ‘quality’ of work one delivers, Audit Managers, be they in the managerial hierarchy or hiring managers, seem to put an awful lot of store over longevity rather than ability. It sucks, it really does. It’s like a warped version of that famous scene from Dead Poet’s Society, where the tutor states that the length of a poem’s pentameter has a direct relationship of the quality of the prose. It’s a complete fallacy.

What I’m driving at is I think my work is unproductive. I didn’t contribute to business efficiency, especially this week. I haven’t done anything meaningful; I’m checking up on people (although Internal Auditors always maintain its the process but I’m not so sure). Being the class snoop was never a career objective. No wonder I feel blue.


1. ITauditSecurity - November 21, 2011

Lack of documentation? Most groups that I’ve worked in don’t care about documentation, but rather the results of the control, and whether the control is effective.

While documentation makes the control owner and performer’s task clearer, helps with training the next bloke to do it, and makes the auditors’ job easier, I don’t see that it is that critical to performing a control. The control can be operating or ineffective regardless of documentation. Yes, I’d rather see documentation, but if none exists, you ask the control owner how the control works and then test 1) is the control effective and aimed at the right risks, and 2) do they follow the procedure as they laid it out. To me, that’s the critical point.

Usually the documentation isn’t worth anything anyway. Which I guess makes your point. We want life and work to have meaning. I guess it kind of is a useless finding that no one will do anything about, especially if the control is working.

Class snoop? You are feeling blue. I look at my job as someone who determines not only whether the right risks are are control, but someone who can suggest a more efficient way of doing things. Or if you prefer, auditors are those who watch out for the stockholder interests, among others.

Sorry for sounding like a corporate hack. Hope the next few weeks are more challenging and meaningful.

2. Audit Monkey - November 21, 2011

ITAS – A few observations. I think you’ve misinterpreted my original post. Second, I understand paras 1 & 2 of your reply quite perfectly; infact I often don’t bother to read the procedures as the systems never work as stipulated.

To explain. The evidencing of control was the issue, not the lack of documentation. Scenario – Head Number Cruncher reviews the outputs from the spreadsheets prepared by the number crunchers. Audit has previously recommended that a schedule be prepared so that review by the Head Number Cruncher is ‘evidenced’, i.e. tangible, rather than intangible.

I’m saying this is bollocks, contrived, bureaucratic, not terribly efficient, meaningless.

The other issue is the stockholders aren’t bothered. They have a direct ownership interest in the business rather than an indirect in the modern PLC.

As for the next few weeks, and next year. I’ve seen the future, and it’s middling, not that challenging but I want the quiet life, so I’m not going to knock it.

3. ITauditSecurity - November 24, 2011

Ok, thanks for the clarification. I stoop corrected.

4. chris - July 20, 2015

This post is my life at the moment. Painfully dull and hard to self-motivate.

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