How a 'Tiger Team' can make internal audits strategic

Often transformational efforts at companies, though good in intention, fail in execution. Columnist Rob Enderle recently learned of a successful effort happening at NIC, an Internal Audit Tiger Team. Here’s a look at what it is and why it’s working.


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Fraud becomes less likely because individuals in areas of financial responsibility don’t feel they are being unfairly treated as often and the overall environment is friendlier making the crime harder to justify. Operations people feel that Internal Audit is part of their team not an Internal Affairs organization, which exists solely to find blame and hurt them simply because they weren’t given the resources they needed to do the job right.

Thomas has a considerable amount of operational power as a result as her recommendations to increase staff or funding will generally carry substantial weight both because she sits outside of the organizations that need these resources and because she doesn’t abuse this power.

Stupid controls and policies are either fixed or hunted down and destroyed because the goal is to make the company better not just check a bunch of boxes that often have little to do with reality.  

In the end this is a win/win because not only is NIC better, but so is Internal Audit as the staff gains experience as valued consultants rather than rabid accountants.

Advice on how to set up an Audit Team like NICs

One of the last things I asked Liz was what advice she would give someone who wanted to set up an Audit Team like hers? Her response was that she’d have it led by someone qualified to run operations and clearly hire people that knew compliance. This is because that while a Tiger Internal Audit team still must do the compliance job, their real benefit is making the firm better.  

In the end taking a group like Internal Audit and making it strategic is not only best for the company, it makes the company a far better place to work. I’ve worked for both successful and troubled companies and let me tell you, the successful ones are far more fun. So, in a way, a Tiger Internal Audit organization also helps make the company a great place to work and effectively kills two of my birds with one stone.

It makes me feel good that companies like NIC and people like Liz Thomas are out there, now let’s see if we can learn from their example.

This story, "How a 'Tiger Team' can make internal audits strategic" was originally published by CIO.


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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