Conducting an audit is a process with a series of activities to be reviewed and a series of procedures to be followed. A structured methodology, consisting of audit phases or stages, can be used during the audit process to ensure quality and to ensure that all required activities are accomplished—starting from the beginning of an audit to the completion of the audit. Each phase has defined tasks to be completed. Five such phases include (1) the preliminary survey, (2) the audit program, (3) fieldwork, (4) reporting, and (5) monitoring and follow-up. The audit report is the end product of the audit process.
Two kinds of audit plans exist: (1) staff plans, and (2) audit plans. Staff planning should include assigning staff with the appropriate skills and knowledge for the job, assigning an adequate number of experienced staff and supervisors to the audit (consultants should be used when necessary), and providing for on-the-job training of staff.
A written audit plan should be prepared for each audit and is essential to conducting audits efficiently and effectively. The form and content of the written audit plan will vary among audits. The plan generally should include an audit program and a memorandum or other appropriate documentation of key decisions about the objectives, scope, and methodology of the audit and of the auditors’ basis for those decisions.