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Benefits of an Internal Audit

June 16, 2015

Every business has a system of internal controls.  Very small businesses likely rely on luck and the honesty of their one or two office staff.  Small businesses rely on their independent auditors to check their system once a year and large companies employ one or more internal auditors on their staff

This blog explains the internal audit process that applies to every size business.  Businesses have voluminous transactions, multiple people involved, company-wide, and assets that need protection and each step carries risks, opportunities for theft, and potential for mistakes.  Internal audit can provide a check that the systems are working properly.

Internal control includes the Processes for planning, organizing, directing and controlling operations; Systems for measuring, reporting and monitoring performance, Actions taken by management and other parties to enhance risk-management and increase the likelihood that established objectives and goals will be achieved.

Some of the benefits of having a good system of internal controls are:

  • Helping protect assets and reduce the possibility of fraud
  • Improving efficiency in operations
  • Increasing financial reliability and integrity
  • Ensuring compliance with laws and statutory regulations
  • Establishing monitoring procedures

Internal audit is responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of the internal control processes that have been established by management.  The principal tasks of an internal audit include:

  • Risk assessment – Assisting management with identifying and prioritizing areas or processes that require attention and audit focus to actions that may adversely affect the organization; prioritizing projects by level of potential risk; and develop a plan that will limit exposure to loss
  • Process walkthroughs and documentation – Gaining an understanding of the processes and procedures as they currently exist, especially with respect to the IT systems processing high volumes of transactions and interviewing department heads and process owners with a focus on “what can go wrong” scenarios
  • Control assessment – Identifying gaps, also known as “trouble spots,” where procedures and controls are not properly designed
  • Testing – Performing tests of controls to verify whether controls are working as designed
  • Reporting – Providing observations and recommendations to improve processes and controls
  • Organizational changes – An alertness to organizational changes that could potentially impact the management of risk, changes in organizational ethics, management reorganizations, financial demands, resource constraints, technology and E-business changes, consolidations and alliances, and legislative and regulatory imperatives

Some specific benefits that an Internal Audit function will provide:

  • Improve the “control environment” of the organization
  • Make the organization process-dependent instead of person-dependent
  • Identify redundancies in operational and control procedures and provides recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of procedures
  • Serve as an Early Warning System, enabling deficiencies to be identified and remediated on a timely basis (i.e. prior to external, regulatory or compliance audits)
  • Ultimately increase accountability within the organization
  • With an internal audit function, management would have an advocate, a risk manager, a controls expert, an efficiency specialist, a problem-solving partner and a safety net

The establishment of an internal audit function need not be a major investment.  An entity does not have to jump into the deep end of the pool and hire an entire department.  The function can be internal, but just as easily out-sourced or co-sourced.  A way to begin could be with a preliminary risk assessment followed by a prioritizing of the areas of need at which time, a decision can be made as to how to efficiently staff the priority projects and get the benefit of an internal auditor on your team.

This blog has been prepared with the assistance of Ray Broek, CPA, MBA, Partner in our Morristown office, who specializes in internal control assessments, internal audit services and Sarbanes-Oxley related matters.  For questions, Ray can be reached at 973.898.9494 or

Prior blogs that explain what internal controls are  and

One Comment leave one →
  1. 6hawthorne permalink
    June 16, 2015 10:46 am


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