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May 23, 2023

From Checklist Auditors to Value-Driven Auditors

By Clarissa Lucas

Have you ever had your auditors show up with a checklist or a scope that wasn’t aligned with what really mattered? You’re not alone.

Are you an auditor who shows up to an audit with a checklist? Unfortunately you aren’t alone either.

That’s called “checklist auditing,” and it’s a bad stereotype that hangs over the auditing profession and haunts auditing clients. In an 2018 article titled “The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Auditors,” states the following:

“Some auditors perpetuate this stereotype by auditing with checklists and canned audit programs without considering processes and risks.”

While checklists may still have their place in certain areas, an environment with dynamic risks is not the place, especially when the checklists fail to account for the unique or changing attributes of the process and risks under review. If audits don’t consider the relevant risks and processes, then they aren’t going to be of much value to the organization. That’s where value-driven auditing comes in.

Value-driven auditing is one of the core components to revolutionize auditing practices explored in my upcoming book Beyond Agile Auditing. Essentially value-driven auditing is where the scope of an audit is driven by what is most important (and will add the most value) to the organization, such as insights and assurance on the greatest risks the organization is facing either currently or in the next few months.

There are a number of practices auditors can implement to experience the benefits of value-driven audit work, including:

  • Working with audit clients to better understand what they depend on to be successful.
  • Prioritizing the audit’s scope areas and focusing on the areas that are of the highest priority.
  • Delivering audit results frequently to key stakeholders so the information is fresh and they can take action on it and improve their ability to succeed sooner.

Focusing on the areas of most importance to the organization immediately adds more value than a standard checklist dusted off year after year. The areas of most importance change from year to year (or sometimes even more frequently), so using the same audit program year after year typically won’t yield the most value.

If your auditors show up with a checklist, work with them to help them better understand what’s most important and where they can add the most value with their insights. If you’re an auditor and you’re still using a checklist, ditch the checklist. Instead, try value-driven auditing and get ready to delight your stakeholders.

Learn more about value-driven auditing in my book Beyond Agile Auditing, available for pre-order now. Its release date is May 30, 2023. Click here to purchase.

This post was originally published on Clarissa Lucas’ website.

- About The Authors
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Clarissa Lucas

Clarissa Lucas is an experienced audit and risk management leader in the financial services industry. She is also the author of "Beyond Agile Auditing: Three Core Components to Revolutionize Your Internal Audit Practices", has written articles on Auditing with Agility that have been published by the IIA, and has spoken at a number of industry conferences on this topic locally and internationally.

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