Throughout my career there has always been a KPI relating to audit and compliance. I understand the importance of it, but as an operator there were times when procedure and paperwork demonstrating compliance almost outweighed the importance of delivering good customer service.

When it comes to compliance, I have seen Managers live in fear, waiting for the dreaded auditor to arrive! Spending an inordinate amount of time checking and then rechecking that a signature is in place or a voucher is stamped……just so that they may get the aspirational ‘A’ grading.

But what does it prove?

It tells me that a Manager may be very good at administration. But it also tells me that their business priorities are not that of a customer first nature. Instead the emphasis is on bureaucracy.

All organisations have to demonstrate due diligence. But at times, too much can detract from or prevent good service delivery.

Thankfully in recent years I have seen the emphasis move away from compliance based audits and replaced with the refreshing risk based audit approach.

I’ll be honest any phrase which includes audit in, is still not going to excite me!

The google definition of a Risk based Internal Audit (RBIA) is :- “an internal methodology which is primarily focused on the inherent risk involved in the activities or system and provide assurance that risk is being managed by the management within the defined risk appetite level.”

Yawn!……..but if you are still awake…….

I have seen the benefits of adopting this RBIA approach:- It meant that once the activities of the business were assessed, it highlighted how many were actually already deemed low risk.

Alarmingly, the amount of time being invested in trying to negate these low risk activities was resulting in an ineffective use of management time.

It also illustrated that larger, more important business risks, were not given the attention they deserved.

Once a review of all business activities had been conducted and by providing the assurance that risk was being managed, it freed up managers to focus their time on far more important priorities / risk.

These priorities included activities which drove business growth and revenue. It resulted in management time being used far more effectively and a realignment of procedures which reflected the true level of an activity’s risk.

“Well that’s common sense…” I hear you say.

Well maybe it is!….but believe me, you will be amazed by how quickly the volume of process, compliance and diligence can creep into the workplace to focus on a micro element or basic task…..

There is a fine balance to be had with compliance and risk.

But remember the biggest risk to a business is preventing employees from using their time effectively, detracting from experience and stifling business growth! Minimise the barriers and empower your teams. You don’t need to achieve perfection but it will lead to progress.