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Finally, Campbell posits what he calls Agreed upon Indicators of Success. We often, I believe, fall into the same conceptual trap as the cops did many years ago. We define success in terms that make sense to us, but that may not be shared by many of our clients. Please note the use of the word clients. This is the orientation that the police and Campbell took when rethinking their operations. Those we serve are, in fact, our clients, and we need their support and approval. That they may also be our partners, as in the sense the police involved the communities they were trying to serve in partnerships, makes them all the more important.8
Initially we may be tempted to dismiss a function such as corporate security as not being pertinent to what we are all about. Campbell’s techniques and successes may be reason enough for us to rethink our assumptions. We, too, would like to inherit an operation with the prestige and resources of Campbell’s, but we probably will not. He did not, either; he built it.
Dennis Drent, writing of the need for the internal audit function to maintain relevance to the organization it serves, cites several factors that can impede this process. His list of potential problems the internal audit director may face complement Campbell’s thoughts well, and are a sort of a beware-of checklist for those seeking to improve the visibility and effectiveness of their function:9
• The director is not well-positioned in the corporate hierarchy. The audit director’s supervisor will drive the audit process unless the director reports to a highly placed executive.
• The director does not have the confidence, communication skills, or presence to deal effectively with conflicts at the executive or board level.
• The organization or its audit committee members do not fully understand the concept of internal audit or the role of internal auditing.
• The internal audit staff is quick to seek credit for their work. This credit often comes at the client’s expense. Therefore, auditors gain the reputation of watchdogs, and a consultative approach to auditing becomes problematic.
• The organization’s auditors do not have the skill sets necessary to be effective as consultants.
• The auditors do not have the time to be effective consultants.
One may take from the comments of Campbell and Drent a sort of chicken and the egg feeling. Certainly, many if not most forensic professionals in organizations would like to be in the position where they had high-level executive access, were involved in important decisions, had sufficient resources, and found senior management responsive when they surfaced issues. The issue is not that this is not a highly desirable state of affairs. The task is how to move from a present position of relative weakness toward this state of increased visibility and enhanced effectiveness.
In this regard, Drent offers four suggestions:10
1. Hire a professional services firm to evaluate and benchmark the function to industry best practices. This can infuse new ideas into the function and also provide current industry comparisons for use in future discussions with executive management about resources and scope of responsibility.
2. The function must have a conceptual framework from which to be able to articulate its role when holding discussions with key customers and partners. In the audit field, the Institute of Internal Auditors Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing and the internal control framework developed and enunciated by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations provide useful guidance and professional reference points.
3. Never assume the internal audit function is doing a good job. In this regard Drent is much like Campbell, who believes the need to remain relevant to the customers’ needs and frames of reference is crucial to organizational success.
4. Develop a few key performance measurements, but these must be relevant to customer needs and perceptions. Again, like Campbell, Drent recognizes the need for a scorecard that makes sense to those whom the function serves.
It is important also to remember that the forensic function in a given organization may be isolated in a geographic sense, but may find substantial and continuing means of support from the greater forensic community and professional associations. As the field develops, there may well be a rising tide phenomenon that, through research, scholarship, visibility, and communication, will operate to assist individual entities in their efforts at growth and development. The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has already endorsed such a proposition, in The Accountancy Profession and the Fight Against Corruption, a paper released in 1999. In it, the IFAC suggests that the profession unite and team with other professions, the business community, governmental entities, legislative bodies, regulators, and other organizations to combat corruption. The IFAC also announced its plans to work with organizations such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization for Economic Development,