All businesses need to ensure that they are as compliant as possible with the regulations and standards within their industry. Since these are always changing, and there is a chance that a piece of protocol might become outdated, it is often necessary for a company to complete a compliance audit.
This will help to identify any areas that need to be addressed, and could help to reveal some areas where new policies should be introduced. Here are the steps a company should take to ensure that they have completed as thorough a compliance audit as possible.
Decide Who Will Conduct the Audit
Your first step will always be to determine who will conduct your audit. This needs to be someone who is thorough and not afraid to ask potentially awkward questions during their investigation. After all, compliance details how well you are able to follow the rules and regulations of your industry. If the audit uncovers something awkward, it can be a little difficult to explain and can cause some embarrassment for the business. Nevertheless, it has to be uncovered so it can be rectified.
If your organisation is large enough to have a compliance officer, they are obviously going to be the ones who will be conducting the investigation. If not, you could look for a company that specialises in compliance consulting. They will be able to complete the audit and then make recommendations as to how to improve.
Plan the Audit
Careful planning needs to take place to establish the goals of the audit. Trying to conduct an audit without one is not going to be a smart move, and could result in key issues actually being missed. For example, one thing that should be reviewed is whether any compliance audits have been completed beforehand, and what the outcomes were. Have any changes been put in place since that audit? This could be a vital thing to find out, as the audit might, in part, look at how effective those policy changes have been overall.
The most important thing to plan will be the risks that the audit addresses. Whoever the compliance officer is will need to know what they are searching for initially, and they can choose to open the investigation further depending on their findings.
There are several key areas that an auditor will assess, and one of these will be to check the controls in place within the company. How does management handle various issues within the company? How do controls function, and how do they affect employee performance? These are all questions that an auditor needs to check, and it might be necessary to do so department by department.
Risk will always be on an industry-by-industry basis. There are some sectors that are considered to be very high risk, while there are others that might be more stable. An auditor needs to be proactive and consider how the future markets could affect the company’s business. This can help to provide assurance and insight to the business, and help them prepare for potential issues more confidently.
Every business needs to have a good set of operations in place to ensure that everything in the company runs to its most efficient. You can never tell when the wrong system or process could be impacting a company’s compliance in some way. A good auditor will work closely with managers to gain a full understanding of the business and how its operations work. It is vital that they understanding how each part of the business comes together to form the overall organisation.
Part of a Wider Committee
A company that wants to complete a thorough audit of their company might decide to look past compliance, and cover a much wider set of issues. In addition to a compliance auditor, they might decide to hire experts in security, fraud, and cybersecurity to name just some of the areas that they might be wise to target.
This means that the compliance officer might have to work with a much larger group of people. There might be moments where the investigations intersect. Once the audit has been completed, the committee will then come together to produce a final report for the business. This then allows the committee to create a more robust set of recommendations that will target not just compliance but other areas that the business might need to address.
A compliance audit can help to inform a company of the areas where they need to make improvements. However, it must be completed properly to be of use. A surface-level audit might not uncover all of the compliance issues that a company might be facing. Much of this will come down to choosing the right auditor as it is their responsibility to ensure that the audit is as thorough as possible.