Audit planning is the essential first step in the audit process, the foundation of a successful audit. Plan effectively, and your entire audit workflow will be smoother and swifter. Get the process right, and your fieldwork, analytics, issue management and reporting will be more robust, comprehensive and accurate. Planning lets you identify the key risks and controls your audit should cover, ensuring everything is noticed. The benefits must be considered. “Fail to plan and plan to fail” is a well-known maxim: but what should the audit planning process be? What does best practice look like? There are numerous factors to consider when planning an audit; here, we look at what they are, examine the benefits of the audit planning phase, and explore what audit planning software should deliver to help.
Why Is It Important in Africa?
Businesses today face numerous and evolving risks. Effective audit planning ensures that you measure the right risks and, as a result, derive the strategic insights you need to manage and mitigate the threats your business faces. Your audit process cannot be a tick-box exercise in a world of ever-increasing governance, risk and compliance obligations in Africa. It’s a real-world measurement of your ability to manage your business processes and policies and the controls you put in place to measure them. Your audit process needs to deliver value to your board and top executives; effective audit planning will allow you to achieve this.
Benefits of Audit Planning
Taking the necessary steps will:
- Identify priority areas to ensure you focus where it matters.
- Make audit workflows and processes more efficient.
- Help you to identify, and engage at an early stage, key process owners, and your “first line of defence” reduces costs by minimizing duplicate work.
- Identify where manual and repetitive internal controls work can be automated, increasing robustness and assurance.
- Enable you to pinpoint and capture the metrics you need to measure and manage enterprise risk across your organization.
- Drive optimum scheduling and project management.
- Audit planning helps you approach the audit process. You may transition from paper-based, spreadsheet-led auditing processes to a more integrated, risk-driven approach. You may already use technology solutions to support your audits.
Whatever your approach, planning minimizes wasted time and duplication and brings crucial focus to the audit process.
What Is the Best Practice in Audit Planning?
What are the next steps once you’ve recognized that audit planning is crucial for a successful audit? You might be wondering about the process, the key steps involved, and if there are any exemplary practices that you can refer to for guidance.
5 Best Practice Steps
- Assemble your team. Who needs to be involved in the audit planning phase? Ensure you include the right people with a comprehensive understanding of the audit and control process and the right skillsets and experience.
- Assess the risks you face. What is the scope of your audit? Your planning must capture all the areas that must be audited to ensure a comprehensive approach. What are your high-priority risks, either because they’re particularly material or more frequently occurring? Review previous years’ audits and identify any new threats since the last one.
- Decide on your audit approach. This will be determined by how you manage audits (using software or manual processes, or a combination of both), categorize the risks identified in step 2 and the resources at your disposal.
- Brief your audit team — ensure they are clear on their roles, your process, timescales and next steps.
- Create a risk-based audit plan for your entire audit universe, including an activity schedule, to ensure a smooth and comprehensive audit process.
Best Practice and Audit Planning Tools in Africa
To ensure thorough oversight of your organization’s risk landscape and control measures for managing risks, it’s essential to follow best practices in audit planning. Many businesses rely on audit planning tools and management software to streamline this process and handle more extensive audits. Employing software can bring structure and rigour to the audit, including your audit planning process; good audit workflow software supports planning, scheduling and project management, and document management, capturing a library of past audits and templates that minimize rework and maximize consistency. The latest audit software can be used offline or via apps, enabling you to conduct planning and fieldwork on-site. Harness technology to send requests and reminders to audit team members and speed reviews and sign-offs. From planning to the entire audit, the innovation and technology characterized by our audit solutions are making the modern audit process quicker, simpler and more reliable.