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Lean Auditing: Driving Added Value and Efficiency in Internal Audit by James C. Paterson

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4 The Development of Lean Auditing and Its Benefits

It was originally intended that I would be the CAE at AstraZeneca for three or four years, but the work we did on lean auditing and the impact it was having encouraged me to stay longer (for seven years in all). Increasingly, I became interested in sharing the lean auditing ideas and practices that we had developed with other CAEs. In addition, I could see an opportunity to do more work in the field of leadership development and culture change (which I had done for two years prior to becoming CAE at AstraZeneca). As a result, at the beginning of 2010, I set up my own business specializing in lean auditing, Risk Assurance, CAE coaching and internal audit effectiveness (www.RiskAI.co.uk).

Whilst I have seen significant differences in the contexts and cultures that audit functions have to operate within, it is noteworthy that many of the challenges and dilemmas faced by audit functions across the globe are similar (albeit each with its own very specific flavour). Some common challenges and dilemmas facing the internal audit functions that I work with are:

  • How to prioritize the differing needs of multiple stakeholders in the audit process: the board/audit committee, senior managers and those being audited;
  • How to develop an audit plan that addresses the most important risk areas when there are often strong expectations that audit should focus on financial controls and compliance testing;
  • How to get a place “at the top table”, ...

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