A high quality relation between auditors and management is necessary in order to commonly produce high value recommandations. Auditors cannot build them alone. Indeed, for managers, the ultimate value of an audit is its recommandations. On their side, auditors are focused on a step earlier in the process: the audits findings and the report. A relation bridge has to be set-up to build those high value recommandation through a cooperative work between management and auditors.
The main auditors job is to produce a good value for money audit report which contains relevant findings. Their ultimate goal is to help managers improve the performance and risks control of their entities. Nevertheless, good findings are not enough to build the value of an internal audit. Management needs a step further: the recommandations with their associated action plan.
Auditors are not able to produce alone the high value recommandations. They need the contribution of the audited team and its management. Only management can find the best way to fix issues. They probably will need to make choices and find the best balance among many other issues under their control. Without management involvement, auditor recommandations easily end up being inappropriate or too generic.
In order to get this good cooperation spirit between auditors and the management we need common interests and mutual respect.
1- Common interest on building a nice internal audit report is not obvious, especially because managers are not considered as main contributors to the audit. It will be therefore important that auditors always recall the input of audited managers to the senior top management. Of course everything changes when senior management set up clear rules about the impact of audit on managers: see this post.
In fact, a wrong relation between auditors and audited managers can well destroy the quality of an internal audit. Auditees have many lever to do so as explained in this post. For instance they can fight each every finding by searching ways to counterbalance them with positive facts.
2- Mutual respect and good relation are often dependent on details. Auditors must keep the quality of the relation with auditees by avoiding personal findings. They will express audit facts without directly mentioning people names: responsibility levels are sufficient.
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This post belongs to a set of best practices proposed to auditors in order to produce high value internal audits, such as the previous one oriented on performance. This best practice is followed by a recommandation to simplify the internal control system.