A look at some of the habits and characteristics that can take an audit department from good to great.

What are the characteristics that define a truly world-class audit department? Leading internal audit departments address emerging risks, embrace diversity of thought, communicate well, and are on the cutting edge of data analytics.

In the latest edition of our video series "MISTI on Audit," Joel F. Kramer, vice president of audit curriculum at MIS Training Institute, shares these top attributes of a world-class internal audit department that he has collected over a career as both an internal auditor and a top audit instructor, along with some other hallmarks of a successful internal audit team.

Among those top characteristic, Kramer adds that taking a moment to review and reflect on what the department has accomplished in a given period can help internal audit sharpen its focus. "An attribute that has impacted my career is stepping back and asking, 'what real value did our department add to the organization this year? What happened because we were here? What did we prevent? What did we speed up?' And I think more and more we have to be able to say we add a distinct measurable value."

Some other attributes that Kramer identified include: having A-level talent, having a vision of where it wants to go, and knowing the business well. "Do you know your business? And that is from the people you have, the people you bring in, and the people you have access to," he says. "Are you continually learning about the business? When departments evaluate you after an audit, inevitably the lowest ranked one is knowledge of the business. So what are you doing to continually improve that?"

Top attributes of a world-class internal audit department:

  • Address strategic and emerging risks
  • Impact change proactively
  • Include virtual and diverse employees
  • Communication skills
  • Embrace leading-edge technology
  • Have the support of the C-suite and audit committee
  • Creates demand for its services
  • Value-added individual audits
  • Visionary leadership
  • Balance governance and consulting
  • Add real value to the organization
  • Acquire the best talent
  • Do best practices every day
  • Have a mission vision statement
  • Ongoing training
  • Knowledge of the business
  • Maintain relevance