From small Lego creations grow mighty, agile Internal Audit functions

Lego

Agile techniques are common place in most business operations, and ever increasingly used by Internal Audit functions who are now embracing the approach to provide insights and intelligence, rarely seen before within company hierarchies.

The ‘rules police’? Not anymore

So, the stereotypes about Internal Audit being the people that only follow and protect rules, who are the bastions of compliance and block companies from being - well agile, are becoming a thing of the past.

In the summer of 2017, Nationwide’s Internal Audit team recognised the need to look at its processes and working practices. After a Lego-themed event designed to inspire ideas, Agile was identified as a potential tool to help it change the way it worked.

However, they didn’t want to be just another audit team adopting a buzzword that lacked tangible benefits. As a small but well-oiled team, with a strong sense of purpose and everyone in the team from top to bottom willing to get stuck in, they knew they had the right foundations.

Kathy Newman, Nationwide’s Deputy Chief Auditor, commented: “It hasn’t always been easy – we’ve tested and learnt from our experiences, adapting along the way. With support and an amazing ‘have a go’ attitude, we have seen our Agile approach spread across Internal Audit.”

Not just being seen to add value, but delivering it

A recent PWC report reported that only 44% of internal stakeholders believe that Internal Audit is adding significant value. Since adopting Agile techniques, Nationwide’s audit team is changing the ‘one trick pony’ perception - they’re much more than simply compliance custodians.

The approach has brought about efficiencies in the team’s audit delivery, enabling audits to be delivered quicker while providing more assurance across the Society, with the same amount of resource.

By sharing emerging findings as audits progress, the business is communicated with in real time. This ensures that relevant issues are identified early and can be addressed early in proceedings, helping to drive improvements in the risk and control environments.

Since inception, over 30 audits using Agile techniques, involving over 90% of the audit team have been carried out, with many more in the pipeline.

“ With our Agile approach, we have seen the team flourish, accepting the responsibility for taking decisions, and keeping the work moving at pace. Feedback from our auditees has been really positive too, they like the interactive approach and being informed as the audit progresses. ”

Janet Chapman Nationwide Chief Internal Auditor

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