Grade Levels – Grade levels are intended to align with those for the entire organization managed by the human resources department. Aligning the grade levels in this way sets the foundation for transitioning staff into or out of the internal audit team. In the example provided (see Role Progression Matrix), the grades are split between Technical (i.e., T1 through T3) and Managerial (M1 through M3), but they could also have been labeled in any other reasonable manner. In implementing the matrix, the grades should be adapted to the specific guidance of the organization. Information on grades for administrative roles could be easily developed and added to the matrix. In general, roles within higher grades build on key competency themes, relative minimums, and other requirements of the roles and grades beneath them, preserving the progressive nature of the matrix.
Managerial (M1 to M3) – The top three grades are primarily managerial in nature, with an expectation that individuals filling roles in these grades will have well-developed technical skills as the foundation for managing the internal audit team and all other aspects of internal audit.
Technical (T1 to T3) – Persons filling roles in these grades are primarily individual contributors, but are expected to develop managerial and supervisory skills as they progress through their career. The roles also are primarily technical in nature, focused on general audit skills or other technical skills such as IT audit, integrity, and data analysis.
Managerial (and supervisory skills) are developed by staff as they progress through the Technical levels (T1 through T3), with the goal of ensuring that they will ultimately possess an adequate level of skills to consider entering the managerial stream by the time they are fully competent as a senior advisor/auditor.
The matrix is intended to be flexible enough to take the aptitude and nontraditional experience (i.e., beyond accounting or audit) of the individual into consideration when assigning roles and grades. Special exceptions also can be made to promote individual contributors into M-graded roles, but this should be reserved only for longer-term staff members who possess valuable technical skills or organizational knowledge that cannot be easily replaced. Such exceptions should be limited; the standard matrix should suit the majority of situations. As well, to promote fairness and consistency, it is recommended to take steps to avoid adjusting standard titles.
Relevant Minimum – The matrix specifies a set of relative minimums for each grade and role to promote consistency. The relative minimums are key success factors, and the set of relative minimums can always be tailored to meet specific needs, and, as with the grades, exceptions are always possible, but should be minimized. It is possible, for example, for an individual to have a combination of degree, designation, and experience that will meet the set of minimum requirements. Examples:
- Education: generally a bachelor's degree in accounting, IT, finance, or general business.
- Designation: CISA, CIA, CA, CPA, CMA, CGA, CRMA, CCSA.
Key Role Requirements – The categories used in this section can be adapted as required. They are largely self-explanatory. Key requirements are included; they build progressively as the grades increase.
Key Competencies – Report writing and editing and project management competencies are significantly important to internal audit roles. These competencies tend to differentiate the internal audit profession from other related disciplines, such as those within the accounting field. Special consideration must be given to ensure that individuals possess, or are developing, these competencies. Technical audit skills have not been listed, but would include knowledge about the types and quality of evidence, sampling techniques, and interviewing skills.
Internal Equivalents – Internal equivalents should be defined based on input from human resources, and will generally consider common areas for transferring in or out of internal audit, such as finance and IT.
External Equivalents – These are primarily aligned with Big 4 accounting firms, but also may be aligned with other potential sources, such as other consulting firms, and typically for roles within finance and IT (i.e., these are frequently areas where internal audit staff transition to or from). Big 4 accounting firms represent a common career reference point for most internal audit professionals.