job Blogg

Change and project assurance

The best audit teams play an active role in project assurance and, sometimes, a role in broader change management assurance.

I am lucky to work with clients all over the world and see some great practices by internal audit teams. As readers will know, internal audit should be “aligned with strategies, objectives and key risks” and also be “proactive and future focused.” As a result, the best audit teams play an active role in project assurance and, sometimes, a role in broader change management assurance.

When I work with teams I learn about their role(s) in projects and change and have learned that different teams play different roles. Roles I have seen include:

  • Validating business cases as projects start,
  • Determining whether projects are “set up for success”,
  • Looking at whether project risk management and action tracking is effective
  • Looking at the effectiveness of project/programme management teams
  • Looking at project cost management
  • Examining the design of new processes
  • Being involved in User Acceptance testing
  • Doing due diligence ahead of “go live” decisions
  • Validating benefits calculations

I have also seen internal auditors be involved in project steering groups and in “lessons learned” workshops.

In the webinars I deliver on this topic, we examine good practices in the areas listed above as well as the common problem areas, both at an organisation level and those facing audit teams as they get involved in projects. Problem areas include project management frameworks that are either too vague or too burdensome (i.e. that operate on a “one size fits all” basis) as well as the need to step up lean and agile ways of working, so that assignments on projects and change initiatives can keep pace with a fast changing environment. After all, an audit report that takes two weeks to agree will already be out of date!

However, valuable for most participants of these webinars is an appreciation of the need to adopt an assurance approach to project, programme and change activities. This means learning how to understand the assurance framework that applies to key projects and programmes, so that internal audit does not simply “trip over” the work that is already going on in the project team or other key functions (IT, Finance, Procurement) and is also mindful of the work being done by any consultants, any programme office or steering group.

We also share examples of lean/agile assignment approaches and talk about common problem areas to look out for, since this can often “fast track” internal auditors work on the issues that might matter the most.

In summary, use this webinar to validate the best practice internal audit approach to project and programme assurance, so you have a stronger sense of how the “assurance jigsaw” can work, and which “exam questions” might matter the most.

Join our IIA Norway webinar on 2/3 pm and 3/3 am 2022 to explore this topic further, gaining valuable tips and templates if you are new to this area, and benchmarking what you are doing if you already have good experience in this arena.