Internal audit reports have not changed much since I wrote my first one in 1987. The technology has changed but not the content or structure. I wrote my first audit reports in the 1980s by hand and they were then copied by a typist before being sent to the client. Modern technology hasn’t done much more than remove the typist from the process.
But they don’t have to be a mass of text with the occasional table.
Internal audit standards don’t say auditors have to write a report; they say auditors have to communicate their findings. Here are some better ways to do that, using more of the power of the computers we have and not just typing out text in Microsoft Word.
📄 Use Notion (or Craft or a similar app). Notion is a web-based app that allows documents to be created from blocks. The most basic block is text but it allows for media, webpages, files, databases, calendars and all sorts of things to be embedded. It also has ‘toggle headings’ where the content can be shown or hidden at the click of disclosure triangle.
Apps like this are great for collaboration so audit team members could all contribute to a report. It also makes it easy for audit managers to review reports before they are issued. Once ready, all that needs to be sent to the client is the URL. They would get an INTERACTIVE document that looks just as great on a smartphone as it does on a computer 0r large screen.
ℹ️ Infographics. One way to shorten audit reports is to replace all that text by images and charts. Probably the best way to implement this approach would be to have templates created for the common outputs that can be quickly completed by audit team members.
📺 Video. This could be an internal auditor talking direct to camera or a recording of a short slide presentation. A lot more information can be conveyed by the auditor without resorting to creating a slide deck of (boring) bullet-points.
🎤 Audio. It’s a video without the pictures. It’s a much smaller file to send. You can make them on your phone.
What’s stopping you from adopting any of these?