How to structure an internal audit team

Learn how to promote the effectiveness of your internal audit program by correctly structuring your internal audit team. Read now!

There are several factors that determine the success of a management system and the maintenance of compliance in a company. Having an internal audit program is one of them. But how can you ensure your audit program will be effective? Some of the decisive factors are the planning of the program, the audit stages and, especially, the structuring of an internal audit team.

But how big should the audit team be? What about the profile of the auditors? How should they be trained? These are important questions that companies should consider when structuring their internal audit team.

The size of the internal audit team

Highly dynamic organizations often benefit from more frequent audits. Static organizations will have a more relaxed scheme. The degree of magnitude and frequency of these audits help determine the size of the internal audit team.

More frequent audits often require a larger group of trained auditors. This minimizes the total time each auditor spends on an audit and reduces the time taken away from the auditor’s daily activities.

Regardless of the size of the team, having a strategy for selecting auditors will contribute significantly to ensuring the overall effectiveness of audits and, more importantly, the effectiveness and ongoing improvement of the management system.

The ideal profile

Members of the internal audit team should have a very specific profile. Understanding the qualities of an internal auditor’s profile helps you assess your team’s current situation as well as recruit and select audit candidates.

The qualities of an internal auditor:

  1. Demonstrates integrity.
  2. Demonstrates competence and professional care.
  3. He/she is objective and free of undue influence (independent).
  4. He/she is aligned with the organization’s strategies, goals and risks.
  5. He/she makes use of the resources available.
  6. He/she demonstrates quality and continuous improvement.
  7. He/she communicates effectively.
  8. He/she is astute, proactive and focused on the future.
  9. He/she promotes organizational improvement.

Plurality of the team

Auditors should not have responsibilities in the areas they are auditing. However, there is a strategic advantage in selecting auditors whose departmental processes relate to the areas they are auditing.

For example, a person in purchasing could audit the shipping and receiving of material, engineering could audit manufacturing, and manufacturing could audit quality or contract reviews.

Auditing a closely linked department allows auditors to gain a deeper understanding of processes, which can later help to improve and refine the management system.

Training internal auditors

To develop an effective audit program and meet the requirements of standards, the internal audit team must be trained in conducting audits. Effective auditor training is probably one of the few higher value-added opportunities that companies have with respect to their management systems.

The training should consider the complexity of the areas to be audited and include:

  • Training in the audited processes;
  • Training in the company’s internal audit systems.

Auditors and all employees should understand that internal audits are system audits and not people audits.

Among the elements of the internal audit system that can be included in the training are specific checklists, ways to fill out audit records and the basic procedures that control the internal audit function. The rest of the training should focus on audit methodologies.

Being able to train internally and rotate internal auditors offers additional benefits. Becoming an internal auditor allows employees to play an important role in maintaining the company’s management system, creating diversity in the workplace and potentially increasing job satisfaction. With this in mind, some companies use their training to continuously rotate internal auditors.

Final considerations

Of all the elements that make up ISO management systems, internal auditing requires the most time and effort after the system is implemented. Making the most of internal audits will foster greater employee involvement, improve job satisfaction and provide more opportunities for continuous improvement. And this is only possible with a well-structured and trained internal audit team.

Are you interested in learning more about auditing after reading this article? I recommend you read the other content that we have created on this topic here in the blog!

Tobias Schroeder


Tobias Schroeder

MBA in Strategic Management from UFPR. Business and market analyst at SoftExpert, a software provider for enterprise-wide business processes automation, improvement, compliance management and corporate governance.

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