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The Return to the Art of Conversation in Agile Auditing at Barclays

By Shirley Chua, Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications 

Over 30 Internal Audit Leaders attended a talk given by Ms Sally Clark, Chief Internal Auditor at Barclays. Titled “Agile in Barclays Internal Audit” (BIA), Ms Clark shared how Agile functions across BIA as a key enabler towards achieving better outcomes and higher efficiency.

The audit function in Barclays had gone through a transformation exercise covering organisational design, methodology and overall approach. One of the key elements of Barclays’ new approach, termed “Agile Auditing”, is the return to the “Art of Conversation”, with teams engaging each other daily and collaborating together.

She shared how her teams come together every morning to discuss the audit work which is represented on a whiteboard. “As everyone is involved with the planning, fieldwork and reporting, we see a huge efficiency when people come together every day to discuss what they need to do. This daily discussion at the whiteboard helps to remove blockages and keep the work scope tight,” said Ms Clark.

Barclays’ Agile Auditing approach is also based on NOT multi-tasking. Auditors work on only one audit at a time, instead of juggling several concurrently. “I find that multi-tasking does not equate to productivity when applied to agile auditing,” added Ms Clark.

Ethnography – a system of studying people and cultures - is another approach that Barclays is looking at. This approach does come with its own challenges as it involves auditing intangibles such as culture.  And each auditor has his or her own views and perspectives when they make observations during the course of auditing. 

The final takeaway from this session was that when an organisation raises issues and problems regularly and resolves them through communication among colleagues to ensure best practice, it is a sign of good organisation culture.

This was echoed by Ms Yik Yeng Yee, DBS Executive Director, Group Audit COO, a participant at the talk who said, “DBS Group Audit’s own brand of Agile Auditing has certainly helped the Audit department to enhance transparency, increase collaboration and prioritise focus areas with auditees, while maintaining audit independence. The transparency promotes speedy response to issues raised and leads to ‘no surprise’ audit rating; the collaborative approach means that stakeholders have a voice in the audit process; and the time-boxed discussions result in the best use of time, a precious commodity for all.” 



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