Innovation Governance: Innovation and the Auditor

Innovation teams research new and innovative ways for the business to compete. This usually means accelerating a development cycle, incorporating feedback quickly and continually revising a product or process. In other situations, it may mean taking the organization into new territory, whether it be via new functionality, new market space or the like. Overall, innovation efforts may mean new processes or workflows or operating models. To an auditor, all of this screams risk.

Then there is the idea of using innovation for audit. After all, we are having to look at more and more data to verify controls. There are more touch points in our organizations. There is more of everything, which means auditing becomes bigger. Just as the rest of the organization can seize gains on innovation, so, too, can audit.

Providing Audit Services to the Innovation Team

Domain 3 of the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) job practice is titled “Information Systems Acquisition, Development, and Implementation.”1 Given that an innovation team is likely involved in development and, perhaps, some acquisition and, almost certainly, assisting with the implementation process, we see that audit should play a key role in the operation of an innovation team.

Feasibility, Strategic Goals and Proper Oversight

An auditor serves on a project to ensure that the organization’s resources are used appropriately. As a result, an auditor:

  • Reviews the feasibility of projects based on resources, time and other factors
  • Evaluates if projects are in line with the organization’s strategic goals
  • Ensures that projects, and the management of projects, are properly maintaining oversight and control over project cost, schedule and quality

In essence, the work of an innovation team is no different than any other project team. The difference is that an innovation team usually has a lot of latitude to try and do new things. This freedom can result in approaches that incur high risk to one or more of these functions. It is not a difference of methodology but of reach and speed. Therefore, we can take the role that an auditor plays on a project team and apply it to innovation.


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