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ComplianceApril 12, 2023

Integration and collaboration in risk management for internal audit

In nature, every animal is faced with risks, both large and small. Similarly, every organization faces risks, regardless of its size, industry, or expertise. It brings to mind the story of the lion and the gazelle.

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up and it knows it must run faster than the fastest lion, or it will be killed.

Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up and it knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve to death.

It doesn’t matter if you are a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.

Both the lion and the gazelle face risk, and both need a swift plan to manage those risks to avoid detrimental effects. Similarly, organizations need assurance that the risks they face are managed as they emerge. Within this objective lies the opportunity for internal audit to leverage the power of integration and collaboration and unlock impactful results for the organization.

As organizations become more globalized, complex, technologically advanced, and focused on regulations, stakeholder demand is sure to increase. To manage this complexity and elevated level of risk, each organization is driven toward risk transformation; that is, the recognition that traditional models of risk management audit, specifically integration, and collaboration, needs to be reviewed and revised to ensure continued success.

The role of internal audit is critical to providing assurance on the effective identification and management of risks that organizations face; a landscape that appears to change dynamically nearly every day.

What is the role of internal audit in risk management?

The integration and collaboration of internal audit with other functions can help to improve risk management while providing a greater level of assurance to the organization's stakeholders.

With integration and collaboration, the internal audit function can work closely with other assurance functions such as Risk Management, Compliance, and IT Departments to ensure there is a consistent understanding of, and approach to, the risk management framework. Key components of this risk management framework include:

  • Regular-to-continuous risk assessment
  • Data-driven risk assessments
  • Regular, automated risk reporting
  • Closely monitored risk mitigation plans

In addition, each assurance function would share the output of risk assessments and the assurance work performed that offers greater visibility and a better understanding of risks. The risk response taken by management would also help to ensure that the organizational assets remain safeguarded and that the threats to organizational strategy are managed carefully and with limited impact.

What are the value propositions?

Integration and collaboration between internal audit and other assurance functions offers several advantages to the organization, including:

  • Improved risk identification
    Risk information that is shared across assurance functions improves both the individual and combined ability to identify risks. Risk that is often and easily overlooked could be better identified when each function shares its perspective on the risk, its impact, and its management.

  • Better alignment of objectives and strategies
    When aligning the objectives and strategies between internal audit and other functions, the common goal is clear — internal audit can coordinate with other assurance functions regarding efforts and resources to deliver the greatest value for the organization.

  • Enhanced communication and information sharing
    Internal audit can advance relationships with other assurance functions through enhanced communication and sharing of information. These strong relationships help to build trust while enhancing existing partnerships with other assurance functions.

  • Increased efficiency and effectiveness of the process
    By collaborating with other assurance functions, internal audit can reduce or eliminate any duplicated efforts and ensure that resources are focused on those risks that are most critical to the organization.

  • Collaboration with stakeholders in risk management and governance
    When stakeholder confidence in internal audit increases, it often leads to swifter action by management, and thus improves the overall risk management of the organization. This confidence can be a direct result of internal audit working closely and aligning themselves with other functions to reduce internal audit resistance. 


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What is the impact of integration and collaboration?

Integration and collaboration of internal audit and other functions within an organization can have a significant impact on risk transformation. Given the common goals, working together can gain a more holistic picture of risks faced by the organization and lead to a better understanding of the impact and the likelihood of these risks derailing or affecting the organization's ability to achieve its strategic objectives. Given the level of change and the growing complexity of organizations, integration, and collaboration are needed now more than ever.

Reaching for success

There are a few very important matters to consider that will help to ensure successful integration and fruitful collaboration. These include:

  • Aligning objectives and strategies
    It is important to discuss and confirm that the objectives and strategies of internal audit and other assurance functions are aligned. This would help to ensure that all functions formalize their common goals and avoid any misunderstanding and conflicting priorities.
  • Roles and responsibilities
    In order to avoid duplicated efforts and wasted resources, it’s crucial to understand key roles and responsibilities and acknowledge that everyone is working together in the most effective way possible.
  • Trust
    For integration and collaboration to be successful, all functions need to build a culture of mutual trust and respect. This can be achieved through regular communication, transparency, and a willingness to work closely toward common goals.

How to embark on integration?

Implement a risk-based approach

To reach the best outcome from an integrated and collaborative approach, internal audit must implement a risk-based strategy. This ensures that there is a clear focus on providing assurance to the most critical risks faced by the organization while supporting an efficient and effective use of resources.

Embrace technology

Technology plays a key role in supporting integration and collaboration in the digital economy in which we all find ourselves. With the right risk management software, internal audit can seamlessly share information and knowledge, and streamline communications and collaborative practices with other assurance functions. Technology, when interfaced with the right data, can propel internal audit and other assurance functions to greater success by providing insights into risk exposures and automating manual processes.

Continuous improvement

Leadership across all assurance functions needs to encourage a spirit of continuous improvement. This should include periodic reviews to identify specific areas for improvement, opportunities for seamless integration, and an overall push to become more effective with internal collaboration.


Integration and collaboration in risk transformation by internal audit with other assurance providers is gaining traction across organizations. This initiative will help internal audit improve communications with other assurance providers, as well as become a trusted partner to the organization. Technology is a primary enabler of this process and can help all assurance functions automate their risk assessment, access real-time data analytics, and facilitate better risk management decisions across the organization.

By embarking on this journey, internal audit will be better positioned to help organizations stay ahead of emerging risks and ensure they are adequately prepared to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing world. Whether your organization is the lion, or the gazelle, integration, and collaboration will empower it to better manage these dynamically changing risks and be better prepared to survive and thrive in this evolving digital world.

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Sio Naidoo
Head of PreSales, TeamMate Asia Pacific

Sio Naidoo is the Head of PreSales, Asia Pacific at TeamMate. He is experienced in both the audit and technology consulting industry and is passionate about helping audit teams improve their efficiency and effectiveness with new and emerging digital technologies.

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