People – whether internal auditors or our stakeholders – often wonder what the key benefits of an external quality assessment (EQA) are. An unclear idea of these potential benefits can serve to encourage us to put off, or avoid, initiating an EQA, thereby missing out on the opportunity to learn, validate ourselves and improve. According to the Standards (1312 External Assessments), an external assessment must be conducted at least once every five years.
So what are the top three benefits that the internal audit function and the audit committee may see from an EQA?
We will almost certainly learn something new from an effective EQA that will enable us to deliver a more insightful, effective and value-adding service to the audit committee and our organisation.
A thorough, professional EQA may well boost our credibility, allowing us to say quite clearly that we deliver a service in line with international standards and that this has been validated by external experts. It also allows us to directly answer the question, who audits the auditor?
Internal audit, and the audit committee, may be reassured that the good practices we feel we follow and the quality of the work we deliver has been positively endorsed by an external, expert party. The EQA may well demonstrate that we are as good as we think we are!
Ultimately, having an EQA can result in a clear endorsement for us and our key stakeholders that they are getting a professional internal audit service.
As Mark Lenton, HIA, United Utilities, said in a November 2015 Audit and Risk article, “an EQA could be regarded as threatening, but for me it was an opportunity to showcase what you do, be challenged and learn from others.”