The audit plan is a document that outlines the scope, timing, and resources needed for an audit. It also defines the activities to be completed as part of the audit process. The audit plan can either be created from scratch or adapted from another organization’s existing strategy. It can be used to verify if all systems are up to date and in compliance with regulations. The audit plan should be written with input from all organizational stakeholders, including management, auditors, and other staff who may be involved in audits.
Types of audit programs :
- Internal audit- Internal audit is a process that ensures an organization’s controls are adequate. It can also provide stakeholders assurance about the effectiveness of internal controls by evaluating whether they are operating effectively and producing accurate, timely, and relevant information. Internal audits may be performed by management, or an outside party contracted to conduct the audit.
- External audit- An external audit is an assessment of the quality of a company’s accounting and financial reporting by someone not involved in the day-to-day operations. It is essential in the business world and is often used before making significant investments or entering substantial transactions.
- Operational audit- An operational audit is a comprehensive review of processes and procedures. It can be used to support or identify opportunities for improvement in the organization’s efficiency, productivity, profitability, and compliance with regulations. Compliance audits can be carried out by internal staff or external auditing firms.
- Information system audit- An information system audit reviews an organization’s technology infrastructure and security measures. This type of audit aims to identify any potential areas for improvement in data collection, storage, processing, and transmission. The audit process includes evaluating the current state of operations and identifying vulnerabilities and risks to recommend changes that will help improve performance.
- Financial Audit – The goal of the audit is to provide assurance that all transactions are in order, not fraudulent. It also ensures that the company has complied with any laws or regulations that pertain to its business operations.
- Compliance audits – Compliance audits are concerned with whether an organization has complied with the requirements on which they have been assessed. Compliance audits often occur every few years to ensure that such regulations remain up-to-date with current legislation or changing economic conditions.
- Risk Assessment Audit Program – This type of audit is important because it helps organizations identify potential risks and vulnerabilities within their organization. It’s also called an organizational risk assessment or enterprise risk management (ERM).
Benefits of an audit plan
An audit plan is a systematic approach to the examination of an organization’s compliance with regulatory requirements. It has numerous benefits which some of these include:
- Increased productivity through streamlined processes and procedures in an audit plan
- Decreased number of errors due to better audit procedures and potential threats are identified priory.
- Management can use audit plans as a benchmark for assessing risks and vulnerabilities, or they can provide an overview of the level of risk in your organization. Auditors will be responsible for ensuring that their clients are minimizing risks by applying appropriate controls.
- Audit plans help to organize the audit work and in a well-defined manner. They define the scope of the audit, what will be audited, who will do it, and how long it will take them. These plans are prepared before the start of an audit process to ensure that all aspects of the assignment are planned for and taken care off
- It helps to prevent any misunderstanding with clients or employees and establishes clear expectations of what will happen. It also reduces time spent on reading documentation and clarifies audit procedures for everyone involved in a project.
Difference between audit plan and audit program :
|Audit Plan||Audit Program|
|An audit plan is a document that outlines an approach to the auditing process.||An audit program is a set of objectives for an organization’s ongoing compliance-control activities, often put into place by management or boards of directors.|
|An audit plan is designed and prepared by an auditor before conducting an audit||The Audit program is an execution of procedures laid out by the auditor followed by an audit plan|
|An audit plan will cover a single project or department. It outlines the scope, objectives, and approach to be taken in an audit.||An audit program is a set of related work plans for auditing various aspects of an organization’s operations.|
Should you plan an internal audit or outsource?
Here are some reasons that will help you decide whether to opt for an internal audit team or to outsource the process
- Domain knowledge- A key benefit of having an internal staff conduct an audit is excellent domain knowledge of their role and the organization. Internal employees will be more passionate about planning audits as they understand the business objectives. The downside to this is that the audit insights will be biased to the organization and won’t find any loopholes if they exist.
- Costs- A key factor to outsourcing an audit is they provide discount benefits for a long-term contract. Since employees in an organization are not permanent, the organization does not need to spend money on training and hiring new resources. Audit planning would also be required on a contract basis rather than a regular basis.
- Quality- With the help of outsourcing, you can conduct various types of audits using different industry experts’ services. This will lead to better decision-making to achieve higher quality audit standards.
Developing an audit plan
- Description of audit plan- Define an audit plan by breaking down an organization into different sections of audits. Ask the following questions as to what type of audits you want to conduct, the nature and timing of audits, the breakdown structure (by function, departments, or location).
- Risk assessment- Risk assessment is a critical component of any audit plan. It helps identify potential risks that could result in non-compliance, fraud, or other undesirable outcomes. The main goal of risk assessment is to identify the inherent risks faced by an organization and its vulnerabilities to be mitigated or eliminated before an audit takes place. Risk assessment also brings into light the initial audits that were not considered in the earlier stage.
- Assign resources- Determine the personnel responsible for conducting audits and the people assisting them in their tasks. Considerations should be made as to whether outsource the audit completely or assure they have the required skillsets for executing the audits and set a quarterly, monthly, or yearly timeline for conducting the audits.
- Review audit plan- Set up audit or board meetings to get the management’s input while reviewing the audit plan. Any risks need to be addressed, and proper mitigation measures should be discussed.
- Guidance- The internal auditors (IIA) guide IPPF(International professional practices framework) that sets globally accepted internal audit standards. The auditor’s responsibility is to follow the guidelines and standards set by these authorities for an effective internal audit process.