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The strategy is Total Quality Management (TQM) and applying it to internal audit to achieve what I call “Total Quality Auditing” can …

The strategy is Total Quality Management (TQM) and applying it to internal audit to achieve what I call “Total Quality Auditing” can have dramatic results. The Total Quality Auditing approach can produce a more forward-thinking, customer-centric, improvement-oriented internal audit team. Sounds great, right? So how do we get there? Proponents of TQM define the management framework as an organization-wide effort to establish a climate where employees continuously improve their ability to provide products and services that are valuable to customers. The key concepts of TQM are: 1) customers define quality, 2) increased quality comes from the control of processes, and 3) quality improvement is a continuous, never-ending effort on the part of everyone throughout the organization. All of these concepts can be applied to internal audit, but not without some significant shifts in perspective. Internal audit often is defined as an assurance and consulting activity designed to add value to its customers by reducing risks and improving processes, controls, and operations. In reality, though, internal audit is often stuck focusing on the past—collecting data and process information and preparing analysis and reports mostly on past failures. We’ve all heard the joke: Why did the internal auditor cross the road? Because that’s what they did last year. In contrast, TQM focuses almost entirely on the future—anticipating and meeting the future needs of customers, improving products and services, and continuously enhancing processes to consistently meet those needs competitively. After reflecting on my audit philosophy and what I have been teaching and training throughout my career, I coined the term Total Quality Auditing (TQA), which is a blend of TQM concepts and reconsidered internal audit activities to produce an audit function that is more interested in serving its customers’ needs and improving the organization in the process.

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