The objectivity in auditing

The objectivity in auditing

Being objective can be defined as not being influenced or biased by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts. Bias can occur in sample selection or may affect the judgments and interpretation of the results reached by auditors during their work. 

Audits should be conducted in such a manner to ensure the objectivity of the audit process and findings to term the audit as independent and impartial. 

Risks that affect the objectivity

  1. The comprehensiveness of an audit schedule– is the schedule covering all the processes in the organization or some processes are always being left out in audits. It is very important to review the previous audit reports to avoid auditing the same clauses of the standard or the same samples that were picked during the previous audit.
  2. Self-assessment – This happens when auditors audit their own work; maybe an employee has joined the audit department and they are assigned their previous department. Auditors may be assigned to audit organizations that they helped set up their documentations, or during the previous audit, there are some recommendations which you suggested then they have been implemented. In such scenarios, it is recommended that the audit team leader is made aware immediately to amend changes in the plan. 
  3. Frequency of audits as determined by status and importance of process/activity- The core processes in an organization should be audited at least twice in a year. Previous audit reports should be considered in order to check the effectiveness of the actions taken to eliminate non-conformities raised.  
  4. Selection of auditors- team leaders should be keen to select competent auditors based on the area or sector to be audited. If there is no expertise in a given area, an arrangement should be made for technical expert(s) to join the team. It is not wise for auditors to audit very close friends and relatives as this may create some level of bias.
  5. Personal Interests and relations– internal auditors should avoid situations that cause a conflict of interest. Auditing your spouse/close friend is one such incidence. It leads to turning a blind eye to some auditing results that may get him into embarrassing situations with them.
  1. Career intimidation – this happens especially when junior staff is auditing their senior. Fear of making decisions that may have an impact on the continuity of the internal auditor’s employment in the organization or on their career development. 
  2. Resource allocation
    • Time- more time should be allocated to the complex functions in an organization or the core function. Short time periods may cause a sample to be audited and this may not result in objective audit findings and conclusion. Too much time on one process is not advisable as the auditee may get tired of being asked too many questions or the auditor may deviate from the checklist. 

Enough time should be allocated between audits for auditors to transition to the next auditee with ease, especially for multisite projects. Where possible, use audit guides. 

  1. Infrastructure- the right tools for the audit must be provided. The audit criteria-(i.e. standards, legal requirements), electronics for remote audit (computers, internet, meeting platform) transport to the audit site,  etc
  2. . Management support– This form of support is very important if an audit is to achieve its intended objectives. If the top management that is supposed to be part of the audit avoids the process, then it sends the signal that the process is not that important. 
  3. Staff support – members of staff should be sensitized on the importance of the audit process so that they voluntarily offer information asked by auditors. 

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