What Is an Agile Mindset in Internal Audit?

By Toby DeRoche

In agile auditing, we understand that the ability to respond to changes in the risk landscape is more important than rigidly following an approved audit plan. This is an incredibly powerful statement because it upends decades of traditional audit practice. The concepts behind agile are to be flexible and to have an agile mindset that allows you to make changes without negative connotations. Instead, we expect, accept, and even embrace those changes. Just about everyone I talk to about agile auditing sees the power of this approach. In fact, this is why most organizations are drawn to agile auditing. But what exactly is an agile mindset?

A Way of Thinking

I recently spoke with Alfred (Alf) Raju, Commercial Director, US for MI-GSO PCUBED, about what the agile mindset really means. He said, “The agile mindset is not about your way of working. It’s your way of thinking about the work you need to do. In auditing, it may be that the team needs to be more nimble or flexible in smaller aspects of the work in order to work better within the broader organization.” 

We need to change the way we think about internal audit. I often ask internal auditors what they think auditors make. What do we do? The most common response is, “we make audit reports.” This perspective explains why we stress over every word in our reports, but that is not what we do. We provide insights to management and the audit committee. When we change our way of thinking, we realize that we need to embrace change. The changes not only apply to adjusting our audit plan but includes our openness to changing our audit process.  

A willingness to bend could start by delivering more frequent updates to the audit committee every two weeks instead of once a quarter. This small flexibility facilitates more open communication. Open communication could lead to real-time feedback on their concerns related to risks, which in turn feeds into your risk assessment. You may need to update the plan more frequently. Thinking about how we work and how others rely on our work can start with a small change that cascades into bigger ones.  

Continuous Improvement

When we adopt an agile mindset, we typically set ourselves on a path to continuous improvement. In Internal Audit, this means reviewing what worked and did not work after every audit engagement. Then we apply what we learned immediately to the entire audit team without judgment. Thinking in this way leads to dramatic improvements in the quality of our work. Now is the perfect time to start your team on this path. Check out the resources below to learn more about adopting an agile mindset.

Agile Audit Resources:


Transitioning to Agile Audit

Agile Auditing: Lessons Learned for Successful Implementation

Agile Audit: Best Practices for an Easy Transition

Agile Auditing

Internal Audit Discussions: Making the Shift to Agile Auditing

Agile Auditing - Rethinking the Audit Plan for Financial Services Organizations

Focused Agile Audit Planning Using Analytics

Making the Mindset Shift to Agile Auditing


Certified Agile Auditor Professional® (cAAP™)

Certificate in Agile Auditing


Agile Audit: Transformation and Beyond

Agile Auditing: Transforming the Internal Audit Process

Agile Auditing: Fundamentals and Applications

Auditing at the Speed of Risk with an Agile, Continuous Audit Plan