Internal audit leaders representing some of the world's top companies reveal their approaches to fostering collaboration with multiple functions across the enterprise in order to reduce risk in the latest edition of Internal Auditing Around the World from Protiviti, a global consulting firm. Volume nine of the series, Partnering Effectively Across the Organization explores the ways in which internal audit executives are connecting with others across their companies and reaping the benefits of new-found efficiencies and greater visibility into key risks as they help others in the organization understand risks and their roles in helping the business to manage and mitigate them.
"The call for both greater collaboration and an enterprise-wide focus on risk is accelerating internal audit's path to the 'top table' in the organization, where it can be a true partner to management and the board," said Brian Christensen, Protiviti's executive vice president of global internal audit. "The internal audit departments included in our study have developed successful, forward-thinking approaches that are dynamic, proactive and making a strategic impact on their business."
The new publication from Protiviti profiles eight businesses from around the world and a cross-section of industries that have taken a fresh look at the broader role played by the internal audit function in their business, particularly amid today's increasingly rigorous regulatory environment and resulting compliance requirements. One prevalent theme runs through the profiles: internal audit teams are collaborating regularly with a wide range of groups in the organization, bringing more value to the business, while also maintaining their objectivity and independence.
At the French software company, Dassault Systemes, corporate audit director Etienne Grobon has put the power of collaboration to work. His relatively small internal audit team of four is strengthened and supported by a collaborative approach with other business functions throughout the company. "There is not a single person or department responsible for risk management at Dassault Systemes -- it is a shared exercise," said Grobon. "For instance, we rely on compliance officers within the finance function who deal with internal controls." When Grobon is notified of issues or presented with questions about operations, he has the flexibility to delegate the issue or question to the team best suited to address it. "Because each of these groups is small, they rely on each other," he says. "We leverage other teams and avoid adding headcount so we can remain lean and efficient. It is an effective approach for sharing knowledge and resources."
Another organization featured in Internal Auditing Around the World, financial institution Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), has found an approach that allows it to collaborate with and rely on others in the organization without reducing objectivity and independence. "When you rely on other groups, and collaborate, you still have to form your own opinion," said Anil Mathur, senior vice president and chief auditor of CIBC. One thing of which the CIBC internal audit team is especially mindful is the differing points of view on risk from other groups in the organization. "If you are working with a compliance team, its viewpoint on risk will be through the lens of compliance and regulations," Mathur explains. "If you are working with a group focused on financial statements and Sarbanes-Oxley, its point of view will be influenced by numbers. An internal audit function must look at risk comprehensively. Perspectives are unique and different, and, as an internal audit department, you have to take in all that input to make sure you have not missed anything, but still reach your own conclusions."
This ninth edition of Internal Auditing Around the World also profiles such companies as BHP Billiton and KPN, among others.