Nearly three-quarters (74%) of chief audit executives and senior audit leaders report that their organisations have completed or are undertaking initiatives to transform and innovate their internal audit function, according to a survey from consulting firm Protiviti.

More than two-thirds (70%) of internal audit leaders said their department’s focus on innovation and transformation increased in the last year.

Protiviti global leader of the firm’s internal audit and financial advisory practice Andrew Struthers-Kennedy said: “Many organisations are beginning to see that regardless of their scale or industry, there are numerous benefits to be realized through the adoption of next-generation practices in governance, methodology, data and technology within internal audit, and we expect many leaders will continue to accelerate their transformation efforts.

“Survey respondents indicated there is increasing desire from senior management, audit committees and boards for internal audit functions to become more technology- and data-enabled in order to add value to their organizations. It’s incumbent upon CAEs to become or designate a ‘transformation director’ to ensure their group adopts agile auditing and becomes a more strategic partner to their organization’s leadership.”

Respondents to the global survey expressed that the area in which they have the largest talent and skills gap is in enabling technology, including advanced analytics, automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence, as well as process mining.

The global benchmarking survey polled 538 executives from December 2021 through January 2022, including CAEs, audit directors and managers across industries globally. More than 60% of their companies have revenues of $1bn or more.

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Protiviti Internal Audit and IT Audit practices UK leader Mark Peters said: “For organisations that have yet to start or are in the early stages of their next-gen internal audit journeys, there are three keys to establishing a solid foundation for success: begin with small pilot projects that internal stakeholders can learn from and expand on; communicate a clear vision to audit teams about why there’s a need to make changes and what the changed state will look like; and cultivate a culture that encourages employees of all levels and departments to bring an innovative mindset to every task.”