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

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8 The Importance of Role Clarity in Assurance and the Insights Lean Can Offer

In the previous chapter I discussed some of the dilemmas that auditors face because they have multiple stakeholders who may have different views about the value and purpose of internal audit. In addition, auditors face the dilemma of often needing to deliver difficult messages, whilst maintaining good working relationships.

To help me manage these dilemmas when I was a CAE I used coaching support from time to time. From this I gained two key insights in relation to disagreements with management:

  • Some disagreements arise because of disputes about roles and responsibilities. For example, a manager saying: “I didn’t check that because I thought you (the auditor) were going to do that” or “I didn’t think I had to keep documentation of who had been trained, that’s the job of the HR function, not me”;
  • Other disagreements are the inevitable outcome of two legitimate roles having a different perspective. For example: “Our audit work suggests there is a greater risk in this area than you seem to think.”

Thinking about roles was helpful to me as a CAE, since it helped me to recognize that bringing up certain issues would inevitably be difficult, but a necessary task if I wanted to do my job properly. On other occasions, it helped me think ahead about potential misunderstandings about respective roles and responsibilities so these could be constructively discussed at an early stage.

In my consulting and CAE ...

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