IN THIS ISSUE
Avoiding Major Pitfalls of CSA
Make your assessments run more efficiently and effectively with these "quick tips" that can help you hit the ground running and avoid common mistakes.
These tips were adapted from Control Self-Assessment: Experience, Current Thinking, and Best Practices.
When asked about difficulties experienced during CSA implementation and adoption, organizations often identify the same areas. Five of the most common difficulties are listed below. By avoiding the pitfalls many others have faced, your organization likely will travel a smoother path to CSA implementation and adoption.
- Don't force someone into facilitating a CSA workshop. If the person doesn't believe in the concept, your CSA effort surely will fail. Just because someone is a terrific traditional auditor whose specialty is fraud cases or one-on-one interviews, that doesn't mean they'd be a good facilitator or be able to make presentations in front of a group. Instead, do some research to find an appropriate facilitator. If your audit department's staff doesn't include someone who is comfortable being in front of a group, pair him or her with someone from another department in the company who is. Working together, the auditor can coach the facilitator on the subject matter. Another option is to hire an outside consultant to facilitate the workshops. An outside consultant also offers the benefit of being an objective, unbiased facilitator.
- Don't oversimplify what it takes to conduct/have a successful CSA workshop. Oversimplification of the necessary investment, learning, or planning to mount a successful CSA workshop will leave an organization floundering when their CSA effort takes a turn for the worse. Make sure to spend ample time in the planning phase. For ideas on how to plan your CSA implementation, talk to other organizations that have implemented CSA successfully and learn from their experiences.
- Don't start the CSA process with an enormous first project. Organizations that are too aggressive at the start — planning to do 10 or 12 workshops in a month's time for the first project — are setting themselves up for failure. Although it's hard not to get excited during the CSA strategy planning, it makes more sense to start small — with three or four workshops — to produce good results and build from them.
- Don't neglect to secure management's support. Automatically assuming everyone is going to love CSA is a poor assumption. Even if executives are onboard with the CSA process, it is lower-level management that makes things happen. Don't assume that because you have senior management's buy-in that the next level is likely to support the process. Continue marketing CSA from top to bottom. If you don't continue your marketing and get the buy-in at the next management level, as well as with the employees, it's likely to be a useless effort.
- Don't narrow your focus on controls. Because many CSA practitioners possess an audit background — most often a financial focus — it's easy to focus too heavily on controls, often to the detriment of legal compliance or operations. By taking a narrow focus into the future, you will be limiting the potential of what CSA can bring to an organization.
If you have a "quick tip" that you'd like to share, please e-mail the editor.