What is the operational auditing process?
Plan the audit process
The auditor meets with relevant managers to discuss and plan their audit method. During this discussion, the auditor gains an understanding of the business and any potential concerns. They can then identify areas that may require process improvements, providing challenges for them to focus on during the audit. Through this conversation, the auditor also establishes the scope and timeline of the audit.
Next, they can begin establishing the audit’s goals and strategies. These objectives vary but should aim to support the organization’s needs and overall objectives. They may focus on a specific area of the company and its related processes. For example, a company may perform an operational audit on its hiring practices. The auditor and managers must establish objectives for those processes to meet, such as increasing the number of employees hired over a set period. Then the auditor uses those objectives to assess the company’s current procedures and find improvements.
Conduct the audit
Now the auditor examines the business areas within the scope of their audit program. The auditor needs to assess the existing processes and procedures to determine whether they meet the goals set earlier in the audit process. They have conversations with managers and employees to discuss whether the processes meet expectations. The auditor also may observe employees as they conduct those procedures and examine every step.
Once the auditor understands and reviews the processes or procedures, they can develop tests to evaluate them. Through those tests, the auditor may find specific factors that need improvement and generate and experiment with solutions that help fulfill their objectives. An ideal process works without issues and enables the company to conduct the task in a cost- and time-efficient manner.
Report audit findings
The auditor develops a report on their findings and includes any recommendations for improvements. Depending on those recommendations, the auditor may also draft an implementation plan to help the company make the necessary changes. They discuss these recommendations with relevant managers, ensuring that the management team understands the findings and solutions. The management may agree to follow all the suggestions or discuss why some changes may not be feasible.
Perform a follow-up
After completing an audit, the auditor sets up a follow-up meeting with the relevant management team and staff. Commonly, they hold the follow-up about six months after the audit. During the follow-up, they discuss the changes made to the processes and assess their results. They measure these results to the objectives set forth by the audit and determine whether they meet those goals or are making some progress towards them.
Types of operational audits
An operational audit examines the business processes and procedures within a company. This type of audit may overlap with other types of audits, such as:
- Department audits: Different departments within a company use different processes and procedures related to their goals or responsibilities. An audit can assess those processes and find ways to improve them. It can also examine the department’s available resources and how efficiently they use them when conducting processes. For example, an operational audit could look into specific departments such as human resources, marketing, or Information Technology (IT).
- Investigative audits: If a company discovers or suspects an error or security breach has occurred, it may conduct an investigative audit to determine its cause. As part of this audit, they may assess the processes performed by an employee or department. The auditor may make suggestions to improve those processes or related procedures to ensure the issue does not occur in the future.
- Compliance audits: This type of audit evaluates whether a company follows relevant external laws, along with internal policies. The auditor will assess current processes and procedures to ensure they meet any necessary standards or regulations related to the organization’s industry. A company may also have rules for conduct that all employees much follow, so the audit may inspect compliance with processes for hiring and firing employees, for example.
- Follow-up audits: After an operational audit, the company will implement any necessary changes. They may then set a determined time to conduct a follow-up audit to evaluate the changes’ effectiveness.
Why is an Operational Audit done?
An operational audit is an evaluation of a company’s processes, systems, and operations to determine if they are efficient and effective. This type of audit is typically performed by an external audit firm and is often focused on specific areas of the company, such as its manufacturing processes, supply chain management, or customer service operations. The primary goal of an operational audit is to identify opportunities for improvement and to provide recommendations for how the company can optimize its operations and processes to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Operational audits can also help to identify potential risks and compliance issues and can provide assurance to the company’s stakeholders that its operations are being managed effectively.
What are the elements of an Operational Audit?
The elements of an operational audit vary depending on the specific goals and objectives of the audit, as well as the industry and size of the company being audited. However, some common elements of an operational audit may include:
- A review of the company’s business processes and operations, including an assessment of their efficiency and effectiveness.
- An examination of the company’s systems and controls, including an evaluation of their adequacy and effectiveness.
- An analysis of the company’s internal and external operating environment, including an assessment of the risks and opportunities it faces.
- An evaluation of the company’s performance and financial position, including an assessment of its profitability, liquidity, and financial health.
- A review of the company’s compliance with relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards.
- A presentation of findings and recommendations for improvement, including specific actions that the company can take to optimize its operations and processes.
How frequently should an operational audit be done?
The frequency of operational audits varies depending on the specific needs and goals of the company being audited. Some companies may choose to conduct operational audits on a regular basis, such as annually or every two years, while others may only conduct an operational audit when there is a specific need or concern, such as a significant change in the company’s operations or a significant risk or compliance issue. It is important for companies to carefully consider the appropriate frequency of operational audits based on their unique circumstances and objectives. In general, it is recommended that companies conduct operational audits at regular intervals to ensure that their operations are efficient and effective, and to identify and address any potential issues in a timely manner.