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Clear Objectives in Auditing

Setting clear objectives up front can make the difference between providing the client with a tool to improve operations and providing a report that adds no value other than to give the company assurance that it has a certified audit on record.

What process would you follow if, during an audit, you stumble upon something that was not outlined in the objectives, but you know the client would want to have knowledge of?

Fresh eyes are vital to a thorough review. Over the years, I have come across Managers who were in position for five or more years, who thought they new it all. As soon as they were replaced, the skeletons started coming out of the closet and we were able to tie many of the operational shortcomings to their lack of motivation. Complacency is a bad thing in any industry. Although lay-offs or terminations are not fun, sometimes it allows for a fresh set of eyes to review and address an on-going issue.

How can we prevent ourselves from developing "tired eyes" and continue looking at things with the same vigor as when we first started auditing?

Successful leaders invest time in getting to know the team before attempting to lead them. Employees cannot be managed the same way. Depending on an employee's motivation, a manager may have to work side-by-side until he / she has role-modeled the desired behaviors. Other employees require far less intervention. In fact. by working alongside these highly motivated individuals, a leader runs the risk of negatively impacting the employee's morale.

How can auditors negatively affect morale?

In some companies, the two employees with the greatest tenure (20 years) resist change the most. They have positioned themselves as indispensable by not sharing their historical knowledge about our legacy system. As a result, they are constantly being consulted for assistance on which reports to run, or how to overcome a system issue.

What can be done to mitigate this risk when "dinosaurs" don't want to play in our sandbox? (no offense to all of the long-term employees in the audience).

We should not dismiss the fact that the world's greatest innovations have come from large companies that can afford a larger labor pool. The chance of someone discovering the ipod or iphone while working in his / her parent's bakery is slim. However, when a company organizes a group of highly skilled and motivated employees, something great is bound to happen.

Besides mentoring and advanced training courses, as auditors, what else can we do to keep the troops motivated to help the company achieve its goals?

Regardless of how you prove your value to the organization, at the end of the day, it comes down to dollars and cents. Unless you want to do all of the work yourself, investing time in developing your team to think and react like you will not only add to your quality of work-life, but it will show upper-management that you are a developer of human capital.

When conducting operational audits, what are some metrics auditors can provide management to help identify employees who demonstrate upward mobility?

Solution Preview

If during an audit, you stumble upon something that was not outlined in the objectives but you know that the client would want knowledge of, you would follow preplanned procedures for such occurrences. Almost all auditors have plans to handle such surprises, and by having a plan that can be used if and when needed, it gives auditors an advantage to being able to handle such situations. The auditor has a strategic plan for including last minute objectives, and the objectives can then be fit into the audit plan with minimal disruption. It would really be handled the same way as surprises are handled in project management - during the course of a project, there is an unknown gas line that has to be worked around which has just surfaced. The project manager finds a way to work around it and include it in the project with the least amount of disruption to the project as a whole. The principle is the same - handle the issue that arises by including it and disrupting the remainder of the audit as little as possible.

This really involves ethics, ...

Solution Summary

This solution includes detailed explanations for each of the auditing questions listed. All questions and circumstances are thoroughly addressed.