Happy New Year everyone! 2019 was full of challenges, opportunities, and adventures for The Audit Library team. 2020 is looking to be busier and better than ever!
There is something unspoken, but universally understood, about a New Year. When the calendar officially rolls over, a cycle begins. It’s a time to start new initiatives, stop what hasn’t been working, and continue the things that have brought you success.
I had the opportunity to relax and reflect over the week of Christmas while I was holed up in an Arizona vacation rental with my family. Away from my normal busy routine, I spent some time thinking about where The Audit Library is currently, and our plans for the future. I made some resolutions and put them down on paper to make it official and hold myself accountable later.
I hope you also had the chance to unwind and think about the direction of your lives and your audit departments over the holidays. If you’re setting goals or changing it up in 2020, here are some New Year’s resolutions for auditors for you to consider.
Improve Audit Metrics
How are you doing with productivity and efficiency?
Productivity (the percentage of your time spent doing audit work) and efficiency (time spent on a project divided by your budget) are the two key metrics used to measure any audit department’s success. First of all, you need a solid understanding of productivity and efficiency to decide whether your targets should change and by how much. I wrote an article that can help auditors understand these concepts in depth. It provides clear definitions of productivity and efficiency, and a framework to understand how these metrics relate to one another.
Once you understand the underlying concepts and have a method in place for measuring and calculating, consider where you want to be. I’m not someone who will say productivity always needs to go up, or efficiency always needs to improve, because this is about balance. Really contemplate your objectives. Do you want to get more projects done, improve audit turnaround time, or produce more comprehensive work? Each of these worthy aims will play out in the numbers, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
Another consideration is your team. If you are an audit leader, are you too focused on numbers? For example, does your team lose PTO because they want their productivity as high as possible? Do they cut corners on audits to keep within unrealistic budgets? These are the types of things that most employees will not tell you, so you need to observe them and objectively consider whether you need to set more realistic expectations.
Pursue Education and Certification
I’m not one to preach the gospel of certification. There are amazing auditors who are not certified, be it CPA, CIA, CFE, or otherwise. On the other hand, there are some truly unprofessional individuals out there with all the initials behind their name you can imagine (and some you don’t recognize). Being a good auditor and being a certified auditor are not mutually exclusive!
All that said, here is why you may want to consider pursuing a certification or other continuing educational goal in 2020. Certification shows others that you committed to a program, set a goal, and accomplished it. Certifications make you more employable, and therefore more independent. A new certification can also give perspective in a weak area, or reinforce that you understand the foundational concepts of the profession.
I look at certifications as a good starting point. I learned a lot pursuing the CIA, but I learned much more on the job. While I’m proud to be a Certified Internal Auditor and appreciate the doors it opened for me professionally, I would never rely on that one line in my resume to prove my worth. There is literally no downside to pursuing a certification program, so if you have the time and other resources, resolve to become certified in something new this year!
Improve Your Professional Relationships
Being an auditor means working with others, and all of us could stand to improve our professional relationships. This New Year is the perfect time to take stock of the people around you. Are there any broken work friendships that you could mend? Can you identify any potential strategic partnerships that would advance your career or department?
The important people in your work life can be broken into groups, and prioritized. The managers at your company have a lot to do with the success or failure of your audit department. Could any of these relationships use some TLC? If you want to examine this topic more, take a look at this post I wrote about building healthy relationships with management and having a cooperative mindset.
Another important group that you will interact with in the near future is your external auditors. This relationship can be a tricky one, but it is vital to your company. This post provides practical real-world advice for establishing a professional relationship between internal and external audit.
Beef Up Your Resume
Consider where you are right now, and where you want to be a year from now. How does your resume look, and what would make it look better? A New Year is a great time to think about your resume, and decide what you want added to it.
If you’re just starting out, resume boosters might include completing a degree, getting your first audit position, or embarking on your first certification. If you’ve been doing this for a while, you may want to add board or high-profile volunteer experience to your resume. This post has some great information to consider when pursuing board roles (or being pursued for one).
I’m not a resume expert, but I’ve written many for myself and seen many candidates’ resumes as a hiring manager over the years. Some resume gurus claim that your resume should be one page long, with a list of your job history and major milestones. Personally, I like a short description under each job, to provide some context, followed by what I consider my greatest accomplishments in that role. My resume is two pages long at this time, and I really like it that way! There’s no right or wrong answer. Whether your write them down or not, you need some wins to discuss in future job interviews.
Consider your current role, and what you have accomplished. If you could use some more bullet point worthy wins, start planning for them now. You could spearhead moving your department to electronic workpapers or be an advocate for implementing a whistleblower hotline. You could engage a Quality Assurance Review or lead an overhaul of Internal Audit policies, procedures, and charters. Look around you, find something that could be a little better at your company, and take the lead to improve it. A great resume and interview topics will follow!
Invest in New Technology
A New Year means a new budget. What technological investments could benefit your audit department? It could be something big like moving to auditing software, such as IDEA or ACL. It could be something small, like getting a second monitor for an auditor who frequently performs workpaper reviews, or a mobile scanner for working in the field. Figure out what technology upgrades would improve your audit life, and build a business case to persuade decision makers.
Remember to always make the case for improving the company when advocating for technology resources. If a new software program would make it easier to uncover fraud, that has the potential to reduce losses long term and should be clearly explained to your CEO, Audit Committee, or Board.
Happy New Year!
If you could use a hand with your professional New Year’s resolutions, consider becoming a subscriber to The Audit Library if you aren’t already. Our audit programs will save you time, improving your productivity and efficiency on projects. We have tools that can help you budget, plan, track time, and produce reports and metrics for your department. Investing in this simple solution, saving you time and improving your output quality, is an immediate resume booster. Contact us if you have any questions!
Readers, thank you so much for all of your support! I hope these resolutions will get you thinking about all of the exciting possibilities the New Year holds. From all of us at The Audit Library, we wish you a happy and prosperous New Year!