An investigation into the financial and operational costs and benefits of the internal audit / internal review activities within an organisation.
“The improved knowledge of the basic concepts of Internal Audit activities along with proper knowledge of the general operations of the selected company that is directly or indirectly linked to the internal audit activities and the guidance of a highly qualified mentor are the keys for the successful passing of the RAP.”
This topic is focused on the Internal Auditing and its benefits along with the associated financial and operational costs of the company. The internal auditing is an independent and objective assurance and consulting activity that is designed to add value and improve the operations of the company. The internal audit enables the company to accomplish the objectives by implementing a systematic and disciplined approach to estimate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control and the governance processes.
(Source: The Institute of Internal Auditors)
The objectives of the internal audit can be summed in the following points:
- Verifying the correctness, accuracy and authenticity of the financial accounting and the statistical records that are presented to the management;
- Confirmation that those liabilities were caused by the company in relation to the valid and legitimate activities;
- Comments on the effectiveness of the established internal control system and the internal check system and suggestions on ways and manners for improvement of these systems;
- Facilitation of the early detection and fraud prevention;
- Examination of the protection of the assets of the company and their use in business;
- Identifying the authorities responsible for purchasing assets and items and disposal of assets;
- Ensuring that the standard accounting practices that the company is required to follow are strictly respected;
- Conducting special investigations for the management of the company; and
- Assistance to the management in achieving a most efficient administration of the prescribed operation by setting procedure that complies with the operating policies of the company.
(Source: Account Learning)
The internal auditors work with the management of the company in order to systematically review the systems and operation of the company. The reviews (audits) are directed to identification of the management of risks and assessing if the correct processes are in place and if the agreed procedures are abided. The audits can reveal areas where some efficiencies or innovations need to be made. The internal audits are organized as an ongoing program for review and advising and are based on the strategic necessities of the company. Many large companies have an internal audit system that is an integral part of the internal control of the company. The internal audit is a staff function instead of a line function and the internal auditor should not exercise direct authority over the other persons within the company.
An aspect that the student needs to carefully consider the requirements of this topic is that the student needs to have an understanding of the basic concepts of internal audit, the objectives and the major advantages and limitations. The student also needs to have an understanding of the general operations of the selected company and also understand the tasks assigned to the internal auditor under the different operations of the selected company. The student should also have an in-depth understanding of the different financial and operational costs of the organization, as the student will have to analytically estimate the types of issues identified by an internal auditor in a specific time period that will, in turn, help the management of the company to control its costs. Along with the (quantitative) cost aspect, the student will have to carefully estimate the assistance of the overall internal audit activity to the management of the selected company in meeting the set strategic objectives. This means that besides the in-depth knowledge of the internal audit activities, the student must also have in-depth knowledge of the different operations of the company that is under the direct or indirect influence on the internal audit activities.
- An adequate explanation or the general concepts of the financial and operational costs;
- An adequate explanation of the general concept of internal audit and internal review activities in a general (Literary review) and in specific terms related to the selected company;
- The necessity for identification of the costs (direct or indirect) of the company that are affected by the internal audit or the internal audit activities;
- Comments on the impact of the internal audit activities on the relevant costs;
- Comments on the findings of the internal audit that have an impact on the different costs of the company; this includes the impact that the implementation of the different recommendations has on the different costs of the company;
- Identification of the impact that the implementation of the internal auditor recommendation has on the growth of the company;
- If possible, the student also needs to analyze if the outsourcing of the internal audit activities can be beneficial in comparison with the in-house internal auditing activities. This needs to be supported by adequate facts and figures;
- A greater focus should be pointed at the cost-benefit analysis of the internal audit activities instead of the approach of the internal auditors or their various issues;
- Providing quantitative and qualitative analysis to properly support the mentioned aspects; and
- Maintaining a proper balance in the explanation and analysis of the various aspects of the financial and operational costs and benefits of the internal audit and internal review activities within the selected company.
Key Success Factors
- The adequate application of the goals and objectives that were set at the beginning of the RAP in the proper sections of the RAP;
- Adequate answers to the research questions that were set in the beginning of the RAP in the proper sections of the RAP;
- Using a good research methodology to get good results on the selected goals and objectives that were set at the beginning of the RAP;
- Maintaining a logical flow of the discussion by considering the requirements of the topic; and
- Give a logical conclusion at the end of the Research Report by also having in consideration all the requirements of the topic.
Major benefits for choosing this topic
- The student will get to implement their theoretical knowledge in real-life situations; and
- The different techniques learned here will be of great help in the professional career of the student.
Possible limitations faced by the student under this topic
- The student may be ignored by the management of the selected organization and may not be given the necessary information due to various factors like confidentiality issues, business secrets or unavailability of authorized personnel;
- The student may find lack of quality information on this topic and lack ideas for improving the progress of the project (due to improper research approach); and
- The student may face confusion by the gathered research material (verbal or documented) that is provided by primary sources with the material derived from other research done according to the requirements of this topic.
Suitable organisation for this topic
An adequate company for which the student can prepare their RAP under Topic 11 is the one where the student can access the management of the company and the management is willing and able to provide all the necessary information for the proper completion of the RAP under this topic. The selection of a proper organization is essential, the student also needs to have a good understanding of the sector of operation related to the selected company. From the knowledge of the selected company and its associated sector of operation, the student can connect the different aspects of the general operation of the selected company with the prescribed requirements of Topic 11 that will, in turn, help them get good grades on their RAP.
The student needs to address the following aspects during the selection of an adequate company for their RAP.
- The personal interest of the student in relation to the general business of the company;
- The access to primary sources of information is extremely important for Topic 11;
- Access to secondary sources of reliable information to support the topic requirements;
- Comprehension of the general operations of the company is especially important for correct fulfilment of the requirements of the topic;
- Understanding of the associated sector of the selected company to support the knowledge on the selected company;
- The access to official representatives from the selected company is very important for the proper completion of Topic 11; and
- A general understanding of the requirements of the selected topic and the proper application in the selected company at the beginning of the preparation of the RAP so the student will not do unnecessary or inadequate work.
Suggested approach for this topic
A proper plan must be set from the beginning of the preparation of the RAP under Topic 11 so the student can make all the necessary research in a proper manner. The student needs to have a good understanding of the major requirements of this topic and needs to evaluate the all the required aspects by proposing a detailed strategy of operation. The student needs to decide what processes of action they will follow in order to meet all the necessary requirements of the topic and this is possible by a thorough planning in the beginning of the RAP.
The student will have to set a table of contents of their RAP under Topic 11. It will have to flow in a logical manner and deal with all the tasks that the student needs to conduct. The table of contents will help the student to stay on track from the beginning of the project. Thanks to the table of contents, the student can estimate the time factors of planned versus actual time that is necessary for completing the different tasks necessary for completion of the RAP.
After creating the table of contents for the RAP under Topic 11, the student needs to begin the gathering of information in accordance to the requirements of the topic. The student will need to analytically evaluate all the gathered information through consultation with their Project Mentor. The feedback from the Project Mentor on the key areas of the RAP is very important for a proper completion of the RAP, so the student will need to regularly share their thoughts with their Project Mentor and get the necessary guidance.
There is no standard approach for creating the RAP under Topic 11. There is the broad level approach described above, but the detailed approach under Topic 11 depends on the students’ perception of the topic requirements along with the available information on the selected company. Whichever approach the student chooses to follow, they will need to keep getting guidance from the Project Mentor at every step of the way so they can fulfil the requirements of this topic and get good grades on the RAP.
Availability of Information
The student needs to complete their RAP from the information provided by the management of the selected company – the primary source of information along with various relevant secondary sources of information like online sources, newspapers, journals, books, archives, etc. The availability of primary sources of information is very essential to Topic 11 because this topic can’t be completed without getting direct information from the selected company. The student needs to be certain that the access to enough information on the selected company from primary sources is available to them and there are no major concerns like confidentiality issues or business secrets.
The student will have to think about selecting Topic 11 for their RAP because the requirements of this topic are only met if the student can obtain enough relevant information on the selected company. If there are any issues in acquiring the necessary information during the preparatory stage of the RAP, the student should consider selecting a different topic because the use of improper information can lead to low-quality RAP and the student will get low grades or even fail their RAP.
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