There are many traps that await the unwary auditor in the rush to complete the full scope of an audit.
Here are some tips for avoiding common auditing pitfalls:
Don’t pass judgment until you are reasonably sure of your facts.
When you do reach a conclusion, fly it by the auditee in a debriefing session to get his reaction. You may be surprised to find that you have misinterpreted what you saw or that you have forgotten to examine a crucial piece of evidence.
Not every individual on the auditee’s staff is or should be knowledgeable of all aspects of a program.
Do not expect complete knowledge from any particular auditee. If you expect to obtain a complete understanding of any program, you will have to talk to more than one person and collect information by more than one method.
Don’t restrict yourself to examining only one side of the story.
Check with internal suppliers and customers also.
Don’t waste your time examining areas that are clearly outside the scope of your audit or your authority.
Likewise, don’t bother with those areas that are obviously not going to yield any significant results.
Once you feel that you have collected sufficient evidence on a subject to support your conclusions, stop and move on to the next item.
Don’t let the auditee lead you into an unproductive quest for data that you don’t need and won’t use.
Eventually you will come across an individual who has been eagerly awaiting a chance to complain about the ills of the company or management.
You should search for the grain of truth in what he has to say by asking for specific examples and by verifying these with information that you obtain from other sources.
It is all too easy to examine only those areas that you particularly like to review or for which you are uniquely qualified, or repeat the same routine from audit to audit.
Don’t let your predisposition or past auditing experience dictate your approach – treat each audit as a separate and unique case.
Keep the auditee informed of your basic impressions.
Tell him what you think is good, what you think is bad, and why.
Don’t allow yourself to become a part of either the problem or the solution.
The auditee is responsible for the solution, not you.
No matter how stupid the error, keep emotion out of your criticism – make it constructive, not destructive.
Some auditees will try to influence your conclusions to support points that they may be trying to win with management or with another auditor.
Don’t accept the auditee’s interpretation of the facts – draw your own conclusions. It is all right if you agree with the auditee, but don’t go out of your way to represent the auditee.
Never accept any type of verbal assurance or “gentlemen’s agreement” from an auditee over a problem area.
The auditee may have good intentions at the time, but he also may not be able to obtain the management
support necessary to fix the problem if you omit it from your audit re-port.
Be very cautious if the auditee does not raise any serious objections to your conclusions during the audit.
He may be waiting until the final exit or report presentation to discredit you. Don’t fail to get his honest reactions to your conclusions before you finish the audit.