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  • Sally-Anne Pitt

Need an external quality assessment – why not a self-assessment with independent validation?

A self-assessment with independent validation (#SAIV) is one form of external assessment (#EQA) that involves part of the work being undertaken by the internal audit function. Typically, the internal audit function will assess its own efficiency, effectiveness, and conformance with standards and an independent assessor will then validate this.

The SAIV approach was originally developed for smaller internal audit functions for whom a full external assessment may be cost-prohibitive. Whilst it was traditionally viewed as inferior to a full external assessment, when undertaken well, the approach has several benefits.

Internal audit functions with mature quality assurance and improvement programs will assess their conformance with professional standards on a regular basis. This “ongoing internal” assessment might include the review of working papers against the Institute of Internal Auditor's (#IIA) standards, stakeholder surveys and regular review of the annual plan. These can form part of the SAIV process – the results can be provided to an external validator with minimal additional work required of the internal audit function. This allows the external validator to focus on efficiency and effectiveness issues beyond conformance issues.

A secondary value of the self-assessment approach is the opportunity it provides to internal audit staff to gain a deeper understanding of professional. Assessing conformance can increase staff awareness of the principles behind each standard, typically leading to improved levels of conformance going forward.

Finally, the self-assessment process provides a valuable opportunity for staff to identify better practices and opportunities for improving efficiency and effectiveness. Staff are empowered to work together to enhance internal audit processes, leading to greater ownership of implemented solutions.

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