Effective Internal Audit Work Starts on Day One

First Day

As an audit professional, whether at the director or entry level, your first months on the job can be critical.

Welcome to your new role in your district’s internal audit department. As an audit professional, whether at the director or entry level, your first months on the job can be critical. By taking time to understand specifics about your district as a whole as well as the internal audit department, you will be better prepared for success and have a more clear direction for your future efforts.

Here are some thoughts about how to get started.

Review your district’s internal audit charter. This is one of the first things you should do. Try to determine whether the charter reflects the current best practices and guidance in the internal audit profession. Consider whether the charter accurately and appropriately reflects reporting lines within the organization and key relationships. If the charter has not been updated to reflect the district’s current structure or processes, you may need to take steps to do so.

Get the lay of the land. Get to know the stakeholders outside of the audit department: these may include the administration, the Board and the audit committee, depending on your position. If appropriate for your position, have one-one-one meetings with people to understand why you were selected for the position, and what they would consider a success if, in a year, they were to reflect on the audit department. In these one-on-one meetings, gauge each person’s risk awareness and consider how you can use the audit function to increase their understanding of emerging risks.

Get to know your team members: their personalities, preferences and knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs). As you become acquainted with others in your department, you will be able to adapt the perspective and expectations that you bring to the position. In other words, finding out how your district operates will help you adapt your knowledge of school districts and risks in general to the circumstances of this particular district.

Make sure you have the right tools to do your job. Without the right technology, your ability to accomplish the goals the district has set for you may be limited. Make sure decisionmakers understand the tools and equipment you need to be successful. Audit tools that allow you to be efficient will help you increase the return on the internal audit department’s efforts for the district. Data analysis tools can also be beneficial in providing recommendations that are data-backed or data-driven.

Identify primary risks facing your district. Take a look at prior internal audit risk assessments and identify key risks and areas where you should focus your efforts. As you meet with key members of district management, such as board members and administrators at various levels, ask them what they see as key risks in the district. As you get to know the district and different areas of operation, you will develop a better understanding of the risk tolerance and appetite of district leaders.

Identify strengths and weaknesses within your department. Review the most recent Quality Assessment Review (QAR) to begin your evaluation of what you need to do to help facilitate change in areas where there may be a need for improvement.

As an internal auditor, you have the opportunity to play a key role in bringing about improvements in internal controls and the overall operations of the district. When you look back a year from now, you will be able to see that the positive steps you took early on were key to your overall success.

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