You’ve heard it all your life… first impressions matter.
The audit entrance conference may be the first time the auditee sees you and has a chance to interact with you. So, you don’t want to go in cold. You want to be prepared so that you can let your charming personality shine through.
Audit culture impacts the agenda of the audit entrance conference
Much of what you cover during the audit entrance conference will depend on the culture of your audit organization. So consider these questions about your audit shop’s culture and your own expectations before you set your agenda:
- Do we want to let the auditee shape the audit objective?
- Do we want feedback from the auditee on our audit scope and audit criteria?
- Does the auditee get to choose the timing of the audit?
- Do we plan on being transparent with the auditee throughout the audit process?
- Do we plan on sharing the audit results with the auditee in advance of the exit conference?
- Is the auditee already aware of why we are conducting this audit?
- When do we expect formal feedback from the auditee regarding our audit report?
The content of the entrance conference will be impacted by how much the auditee participates in the audit. There are no right or wrong answers here.
Just be intentional with how much power you want to grant the auditee before you meet. As you know, if you don’t lead, the auditee will.
You are just a visitor, so be careful!
Do you remember those old Hollywood movies where an intrepid explorer would find an advanced and interesting civilization of natives?
If the explorer was lucky and he was careful in his approach, the natives were friendly and they all sat down for a meal to get to know each other better. If the natives were savages – or if he made a misstep in his diplomacy – they tied him to a spit and roasted him for dinner.
You, my audit friend, are like that explorer. This entrance conference is your opportunity to set the ground rules for your visit with the natives so that your relationship remains friendly and productive and you don’t end up twirling above a fire.
Remember, you will be leaving after your audit; the natives are going to stay. You are only a visitor, not a conqueror. It is their turf you are on, so tread very lightly.
Topics to cover during the audit entrance conference
Here are some areas for you to consider discussing during an entrance conference:
- The objectives of the audit (including the audit criteria)
- The scope of the audit
- The audit methodologies you plan to employ
- The data and resources you will need them to provide to you
- The risks you have identified so far
- Any corrective action the auditee has taken on prior audit findings
- The names, roles and contact information of your team
- The names, roles and contact information for the auditee’s team
- Any administrative support you will need from the auditee
- The auditee’s work hours
- The auditee’s preferences on how they want to be communicated with and how frequently
- The planned completion date of the audit and planned publication date of the audit report
- The timeline for their response to your audit results and findings
- The logistics regarding and location of the facility and workspace if provided by the auditee
- An overview of the audit process and what they can expect from you and your team
- A description of how the audit committee or organization leadership is involved in the audit
- Any questions the auditee may have
Make it clear you are open and available
Before you leave the meeting, be sure to make it clear to the auditee that you are open to their feedback and questions and you want to resolve any problems they may have with your team. Leave your business card and tell them how you would like them to contact you… phone, text, or email.
Be prepared but also be responsive
If you think ahead about all of the above items, you will be amply prepared for the audit entrance conference.
But make sure not to just plow through the agenda! Take the time to listen and respond to any comments from the auditee. If they bring something up and you blow by it because you are more interested the content of the meeting than in them as a person, you may end up with scorched eyebrows.
Again, this is a great chance to let your charm shine through and demonstrate that you care about your relationship with them.
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