Does the “One Audit” concept really work?

At the Phoenix Auditing Roundtable meeting earlier this month, one internal auditor described her company’s “One Audit” concept. It is a comprehensive  audit that includes EHS, finance and IT auditors in ONE team. Instead of having three or four different audit teams auditing specific functions of the company, a large team shows up at one time and does it all.

The main rationale cited at the presentation was that senior management was tired of having to spend time with 4 separate teams and preferred to spend time with just one large team at one time.

This rationale begs the question: Is the internal auditing process being modified  for the convenience of senior management? Or should it be done to uncover issues that need to be addressed regardless of the “inconvenience” that it impose on management?

A similar sentiment came up in another session (my session) when the question was posed to the audience of auditors: Should you be hiring the same external auditor year after year? Or should you be hiring new external auditors very few years to get a fresh set of eyes?

Many internal auditors were adamant that the same external auditors be hired because these auditors know the company’s process and procedures and would ask fewer questions and therefore take up less time of management.

Setting aside the adage “familiarity breeds contempt”, does this mindset of “not inconveniencing management” really serve the company well?

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2 responses to “Does the “One Audit” concept really work?

  1. If a company management is more interested in “not being inconvenienced” by an audit it either means they do not see a need to check that policy and procedures are being followed or they have something to hide. The chances are that management attitude will result in any auditor doing a beneficial audit, i.e. asking questions and possibly finding areas needing attention, will not be asked back in following years.
    As far as using the same auditor(s) year after year does not mean the audit product is not going to be beneficial. Repeat auditors do need to still look deep into the subject procedures and rules they are auditing, e.g. EHS or financial or quality, etc., but they have the advantage of being able to navigate the company’s systems with less oversight and can followup on items from earlier audits to see if they have been corrected. Of course, they can be lazy and just pencil in their audit but this will show up later in a systems failure and possible fines [EHS, financial] or lost customers [ quality].

  2. Good comments, Dale. My point is that if an auditor adjusts his programs so as not to “inconvenience” management, he looses some of his effectiveness. It would be like a doctor withholding certain screening tests because his patient thinks those tests take too much time.

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