Applying the Internal Audit Ambition Model


In today’s unprecedented and volatile business environment, organizations face a future that is as difficult to predict as it is open for creativity and innovation. The internal audit activity can play a vital role in helping organizations anticipate, evaluate, and respond to risks and opportunities. And CAEs must effectively demonstrate that value.

CAEs need robust tools to continuously enhance the value that the internal audit activity provides to management and the board. Perhaps equally important, the right tool should enrich the ability to clearly express internal audit’s potential. The Internal Audit Ambition Model seeks to help CAEs achieve those goals.

The Internal Audit Ambition Model may help the internal audit activity:

  • Adopt a common approach and consistent criteria for conducting self-assessments of its current (“achieved”) quality.
  • Help drive conformance with the The IIA’s International Professional Practices Framework.
  • Establish a peer benchmark against which to compare itself.
  • Create a visualization of its achievements in key process areas.
  • Identify the “ambition” level to which it aspires.
  • Identify gaps that must be filled to achieve its desired ambition level.
  • Communicate with senior management and the board about its achieved level of quality and its level of ambition.

According to the model’s authors, the word “ambition,” distinguishes this model from maturity models because it communicates the CAE’s choice about the level to which the internal audit activity should aspire. The choice takes into account the input of senior management and the board in light of factors such as the complexity of the organization, the size of the internal audit activity, and the industry in which the organization operates. The word “ambition” moves the focus from simply meeting the requirements to inspiring intentionally chosen improvements.

This Global Perspectives and Insights describes the Internal Audit Ambition Model from the perspective of several CAEs who have applied it. Looking toward to its potential applications, the report considers how the model may be used as part of the internal audit activity’s quality assurance and improvement program (QAIP).