Written by Ann Butera, president of The Whole Person Project, Inc.
It may not be explicit in your job description, but in order to be a high-performing auditor, you have to be able to deliver messages in a clear and compelling manner. From kick-off meetings and status reports to internal training sessions, executive committee reports and even ordinary staff meetings, auditors are often required to communicate with tact, diplomacy and conviction.
The internal audit function’s position within a company is unique. It provides its principal stakeholders (audit committee members and management) valuable and objective assurance on governance, risk management and control processes, as well as consulting services to improve operations. With this critical responsibility to fulfill, implicit in executing those duties is internal audit’s continuous improvement to its own practices.
Ensuring that an organization can recover from disaster is a basic business requirement the board should explore regularly with management. Nowadays, leading organizations are taking this requirement and turning it into a strategic advantage. Namely, investments in operational resiliency are assisting organizations to become more responsive to client needs as well as improving operational reliability, quality and efficiency. It’s an effort you should consider.
Changes to a company’s information technology (IT) environment, both information systems and the underlying platforms, are a source of significant operational risk for every organization. To protect its IT investment and reduce operating risk, robust change management processes are critical. The need for a positive control environment and a very unforgiving attitude regarding unauthorized IT changes by management cannot be overemphasized. Insufficiently tested IT changes is an unacceptable practice.
Information technology is critical to the long-term success of most organizations. It is a key driver for the cost of operations, and cost of operations tends to be a vital component of overall profitability. It facilitates the introduction of new business initiatives, as well as the ongoing improvement of current processes, and allows the management team to monitor and report on performance. IT enables business operations through connectivity, information processing, business intelligence and the like. Lastly, and especially important to this audience, IT can contribute greatly to a company’s system of internal control.
I once read an article that stated that many people worry about accidental death, particularly in ways that are very frightening, like poisonous snakes or spiders, or even alligator attacks. This same article noted that based on official death statistics, the vast majority of people actually die from chronic health causes, including heart attacks, obesity and other ailments that result from poor attention to long-term personal fitness. In 2003, accidental deaths in the United States numbered around 100,000; chronic health-related deaths were more than 2.4 million.
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