Embracing the Spirit of Agile

by Hal Garyn

There has been, and will continue to be, a lot said about internal audit and a move to “agile auditing.” The use of quotes around “agile” is intentional, as there are the formal constructs of an agile implementation (scrums, stand-ups, etc.). But there are also just the concepts of what an agile implementation is designed to accomplish, or the spirit of embracing agile.

In other words, it may seem like everyone is telling you to do Agile, with a capital A. When what you might need to do is just learn the concepts and implement what works for you in your situation. That may not, necessarily, mean doing scrums, stand-ups, and any of the other “agile” artifacts. 

An adage is “to begin with the end in mind.” If you know what you want to achieve, then it becomes a matter of determining how to get there. What end(s) will an agile implementation help you achieve? Quicker cycle times, more targeted audit scopes and review, better collaboration with the auditee or client (pick your term), greater buy-in to the observations, and more added value to the organization. Who doesn’t want that?

Whether or not you are implementing agile formally, partially, or just conceptually, embrace the spirit of agile. As the Mission of Internal Audit (The IIA) states: “To enhance and protect organizational value by providing risk-based and objective assurance, advice, and insight.” In the continual pursuit of fulfilling your mission as an internal audit function, being more “agile” is one of the best means leading internal audit functions are improving their ability to deliver on the Mission.

When taking steps to embrace an agile philosophy (again, with or without the formal constructs), it is critically important to engage your audit clients in the process. You want them to understand what you are going to be doing differently, how it will affect them, what you expect of them, what they should expect from you … and, most important, how they will benefit. WIIFM (What’s in it for me!)

The most important takeaway: 

Agile auditing is NOT a journey for the internal audit department. It is a journey for the entire organization, being led and implemented by the internal audit department.

Make sure your audit clients are on the bus before it leaves the station. Make the organization see how and why their support of your agile implementation is best for all.

Begin with the end in mind. And, embrace the spirit of agile.

Now, when are you going to begin?