Standards Versus the Status Quo​​

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Let me ask you a nice, simple, easy question. Can you give me some examples of what The IIA does for the profession? (Don’t worry, this is neither a test nor a blatant propaganda piece; just a nice little discussion about value and change.)

When I ask this question during my travels, the immediate responses usually fall into one of three categories. In no particular order these are Internal Auditor magazine, the local chapter meetings, and the CIA designation. (Okay, since you are reading this, there’s a chance you also know about The IIA’s blogs, as well as Internalaudtior.org. Then again, there’s also a good chance you just followed a link and found yourself here without any concept of where “here” is. My point stands.) If I push a little, I may even get some people to remember the conferences and seminars The IIA provides. But that is usually where it all stops. And that is far from the limits of The IIA’s reach.

For a good time, explore The IIA’s official websites — both the Global and North America sites — and you begin to get just an inkling of the impact the association has on the profession.

I bring this up because, among the overlooked areas where The IIA provides value (including the work it does advocating for the profession in D.C. and other international seats of power) are the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.

“Oh yeah!” you say. “I knew that. I just forgot.”

And that is the point. One of the most important attributes of the profession is having specific standards that are the benchmark of that professionalism, and we tend to forget the role of The IIA in ensuring establishment and adherence.

Now, if that was all I wanted to say, it probably wouldn’t be worth bringing up right now. But this also ties in with my previous posts about the Standards, rules, and common sense.

You see, there is another aspect/service provided that is an integral part of The IIA of which a sizable community of auditors are unaware. Those are the international committees. The IIA is very dependent upon this army of volunteers who, among other things, ensure the direction of the association and headquarters is in alignment with what real professionals are doing and need.

And a good hunk of that is handled by the committees.

Again, why should you care, and what does this have to do with the Standards?

Let me answer that by starting with a confession. There are some parts of the Standards with which I don’t completely agree. Not many, mind you, but a couple. And when I suggest to people that those particular instances may not be in our best interests, I’m greeted with shock and chagrin.

How dare I besmirch the Standards??!!!

How dare I? Because the Standards are not perfect. They are not holy writ handed down to Larry Sawyer from a set of burning workpapers on the upper steps of a New York high rise. They are words put together by human beings (lovely, wonderful, imperfect human beings) like you and I. They are words that, when situations or new information warrant, can and should be changed.

And the human beings responsible for ensuring the Standards are current, relevant, and changed when necessary, work in the international committees. Those same committees you can see listed on the web page. Those same committees who help set the direction for the profession. Those same committees that you can talk with and, potentially, become a member of.

The point I’ve been trying to make with all three of the posts in this series is that we should all be willing, when it is appropriate, to allow change; change to rules, change to policies, change to procedures … change to standards.

We have to constantly question the Standards to ensure they meet current and future needs. And when those Standards don’t meet needs or don’t make sense, we have to take positive steps toward changing them.

I don’t think some of the standards currently make sense, so I talk with members of other committees to get my views expressed. No, the changes that I want haven’t been made. But I’m also not sitting idly back just wishing and hoping that things would be different

You don’t like something in the Standards? Get involved. It is volunteers like you and me who put this stuff together. And it is volunteers like you and me that, by tinkering, altering, and changing what exists, make the Standards and the profession better.

No matter what it is, if you don’t like … work toward change. You have the opportunities. And you have the power. Keep alert for what no longer makes sense — in the areas you are auditing, in how you work as an auditor, and in the profession of internal auditing — and help change it so it makes sense again.

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