Internal audit tips and tricks

I keep a running list of helpful audit practices or perspectives to keep in mind as a reminder to repeat these for future audits. Also, we have a guest auditor program (where staff from other departments participate in the audit process) and I am always looking for good tips to pass along to them. 

Here is my list so far in no particular order: 


  • Audit Participation – Ask for a copy of relevant auditee calendars or viewing rights to their calendars to see if there are meetings it might make sense to participate in as an observer.
  • Audit requests – If possible, ask for access to client internal drives to minimize providing the auditee with a long list of audit requests and to have immediate access to the information.
  • Incarnate, incarnate, incarnate! – Try as much as possible to participate in the auditee’s environment (e.g. management meetings, etc) to understand how they operate and how they spend their time.
  • Auditee Objectives – Some good questions to ask: (i) Are goals clear? (ii) What are you aiming for? (iii) Are the goals always in sight? (iv) How do we know that goals are always in sight? (v) Are there regular reports that show progress towards goals and accountability?
  • Monitoring – Always ask and understand if there are reports for monitoring.
  • Audit Report – Always keep the results of audit and communication of the results in mind while auditing. Don’t let the audit report be an afterthought.
  • Audit Environment and Maturity of Processes – Can you audit when there is no process or non-recurring processes? Yes, because it starts with the control environment (what is the tone from the top), then flows to risk assessment and information and communication, then control activities and monitoring. Governance is always a factor whether it is good governance or the absence of governance.
  • Audit Scope – If you start with auditee objectives and keep your focus on their objectives, you will not go wrong or be distracted.
  • Audit Fatigue – Remember that the workpapers and documentation is part of the ‘systematic’ and ‘disciplined’ approach of auditing and it is what sets us apart in terms of standards. Do not let the tediousness of documenting your work wear you down and make you lose sight of the end goal, which is the audit report
  • Time Management – Use the majority of time on end deliverables – audit testing wpapers, concluding documents, audit report.


  • Audit management deliverables – Organize your writing (especially for management deliverables such as issue logs, audit reports, presentations) and always remember your audience.
  • Audit Report – Write, re-write, re-write, and re-write again until you feel like you have adequately captured the context and framed the issue in a way that is fair, balanced and accurate.
  • Audit Report – Always start with an outline for the audit report. remember to write in context (with the context in mind) and to be direct about the issue.
  • Audit Report – Don’t sermonize. say what you mean. 
  • Audit Report – Put one thought in each sentence. 

I have titled this post ‘part 1’ because I will continually be adding to the list. Maybe I should also keep a list of what not to do because I have many of those. Oh well, I will be an optimist today 🙂

I would like to hear your tips and tricks. Will you share them with me?


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