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Heads of Internal Audit Virtual Forum

13 January 2021

Please note:

  • All Institute responses are boxed and highlighted blue.
  • Where the chair comments in that capacity, this box is highlighted in yellow.
  • For confidentiality, the identities of all delegates/attendees are anonymised.

Chair's opening comments

Welcome to our 1st forum of 2021!

This meeting is intended to give feedback about the work that has been carried out by the separate data analytics group and the future stages in this collaboration. This work has been led so far by a core group of five together with a wider group representing a large number of different organisations. Anyone wishing to get involved with any of the identified subject areas would be very much welcome.

Members were also invited to share, in the chat box, any new COVID-related challenges that have arisen recently.



Chair: Derek Jamieson - Director of Regions, Chartered IIA
Institute: John Wood - CEO, Chartered IIA
Institute: Liz Sandwith - Chief Professional Practices Advisor, Chartered IIA

The core members of the data analytics group are:

  • Peter Jones (PJ)– L&G
  • Susan Jardine (SJ) – Scot Mid Coop
  • Malcolm Zak (MZ) – Elements
  • David Hill (DH) – SWAP Services
  • Caroline Dunham (not able to attend) – An Post

Key takeaways

The group has identified 14 different areas for further consideration in seven broad areas as shown on the presentation slide below.

• Our plan is to cover all of these topics over the next six months. New topics will be continually added, for example AI, which was suggested during the meeting.

• There is no one size fits all because of different sizes of organisations etc – but we all follow the audit cycle – this is one of the commonalities that we will use to work together as part of the ‘getting started – data analytics and the audit cycle’, and this can be our starting point in our collaboration.

• The strength of using this collaborative approach is that we learn from each other and avoid continually reinventing the wheel.

• It’s important to plan and have a vision for data analytics capability, setting goals and a timeline. This is something the group is keen to share in a practical way as part of ‘getting started – developing the vision and strategy.’ We need to be strategic in considering data analytics and dovetail this work with our overall audit strategy.

• We will bring in subject matter experts as necessary to support our practical experience. The session on data integrity, accessibility and security is one where this may be useful due to the regulatory aspects of managing data.

• Engaging with the business will be key to many of the sessions, bringing them onboard, establishing new relationships, etc.

• We will enable internal auditors to share a practitioner view on tools that are on the market - this will not be an endorsement or sell but a sharing of practical insights.

• A number of our members are keen to provide one-to-one coaching support, particularly for small teams to extend learning within the profession.

• One of the aims of this group is to prevent reinventing of the wheel – sharing is key.

• We will look to build a data analytics inventory of standard tests and programmes.

• In considering visualisation and reporting, we need to consider how to best sell insightful data-led results to our key stakeholders.

• Another possible area to be considered would be how data analytics can be used to extract insights from multiple audit reports in order to share best practice and key risks.

• Throughout this process, we need to consider how we engage with the business. This is particularly relevant when considering continuous auditing either as a management or audit responsibility.

View from the Institute

This is a useful and important collaboration on a topic which is going to be increasingly relevant for internal auditors across all sectors. This work will provide useful insights for all auditors but there will inevitably be specific lessons to be learned in particular sectors which we will take forward with the relevant sector-focused groups.

In addition, this group provides an excellent model for future collaborations on a whole variety of important topics related to the profession eg disruption, climate change and shaping the profession for the future.

Chair's closing comments

This kind of collaboration is a key benefit in being a member of the institute and we encourage everyone to get involved with this and other similar initiatives.

We started these forums to respond to the pandemic, to initiate discussion, reinvent what we do and become more agile. This way of thinking is now very much the new way in terms of how internal audit will work going forward.

Please contact me if you are interested in sharing your experiences on a particular topic with this forum. There is real benefit in sharing as collaboration helps us all to develop and improve.   

Forums for your information

HIA Forum

Monthly – Zoom

Presentations and interactive Q&A

Institute invitation only, contact

Local Authority Forum

Monthly – MS Teams

Presentations and interactive Q&A

Institute invitation only, contact

IA Change Forum

(agile working)

Ad-hoc self-help group sharing practical insights and ways of working


To join these groups contact



Data Analytics Working Group

Next meeting 27 January

Ad-hoc self-help group sharing practical insights and ways of working


Future meetings


10 February | Looking forward - thoughts from an Audit Committee Chair.

3 March | Cybersecurity and fraud - the Institute will also be publishing its cybersecurity report.

14 April | ESG - including climate change

May | Board governance and the role of internal audit

June | Inspiring leadership

Chat box comments

• The COVID-19 period was characterised by 'flash audits' on whether the control environment was working with all of the WFH going on. We set up some continuous monitoring around control attestations and found a few problem areas resulting in actions and improvements.

• Over December and January, we've been dealing with lots of instructions about how to send students home for Christmas (mass testing) and how to bring them back over a staggered return - which then changed to have them stay at home. This resulted in a huge impact on budget from accommodation refunds and loss of accommodation / catering income, more online delivery,etc.

Q Being at the very start of the journey and setting up a new function in a start-up fintech - does data analytics require specific software or can we start small? Am also leading a data workstream to refine and better govern data so keen to kill two birds with one stone.

A Most people start with some data visualisation tools as they create a lot of impact. If you can create insightful reports then you can start to think about productionising/automating those. There is no standard 'right answer' - it will depend on what your organisation needs.

A We have been using Microsoft Power BI for our reporting including interactive reports. But you can use some features of Excel for basic analytics.

Q How are we going to collaborate outside these meetings? Are we going to use Slack or something similar for chat?

A The Core Group is going to be meeting next week to consider this and we will be able to let you know after that.