Changes brought on by the COVID-19 crisis have created new priorities and risks for organisations. In all cases this has affected the delivery of the services and operations of the organisation in some form, and in some cases has caused activities to be halted or drastically changed in the short term. Conversely, some non profits are operating at full capacity supporting service users and beneficiaries, irrespective of the logistical and potential funding uncertainties.
Most organisations have continued with many of their activities, making adaptations as necessary, such as moving to online and remote ways of delivering products and services. Where services are deemed essential, organisations have had to continue to deliver these whilst seeking to manage the risks to staff and those they serve.
The current uncertainty presents a huge range of challenges to both the organisation and internal audit. It may be tempting for an organisation grappling with the challenges of operating in crisis mode or adapting to new ways of working to deprioritise the assurance process. However, it is precisely that level of uncertainty which drives risk and the need for independent challenge and assurance.
Importantly, where internal audit teams are working to a risk-based audit plan which is periodically refreshed, then many of the functions and processes due to be audited are still in place and the risk-based reasons for the audit are still valid. If the circumstances allow it then by following an adapted audit delivery approach some of these audits can still go ahead providing valuable insight and assurance.
Internal audit functions have been affected in many different ways. In extreme situations, internal audit teams have completely stopped their normal and planned activity and been seconded to support the second line of defence deal with emergency situations. The critical aspect of this is utilising the right skill sets to support the organisation. More generally, the changes in organisational activities and priorities resulting from the COVID-19 crisis mean that some audits in the internal audit plan may no longer be relevant whilst some new priority areas for internal audit are becoming apparent.
In structuring this paper we have set out the following sections:
Download our full summary to read an in-depth overview of these four points.
Richard Evans will be presenting the findings of this update with real life case studies discussing current risk issues and strategies to take. We will invite questions throughout the webinar.