Organizations use internal audits to monitor their compliance with various standards, procedures and regulations. Internal auditors must plan, conduct and communicate their work effectively. A checklist is an invaluable tool for auditors to use. The checklist should be organized in a meaningful way to quickly assist in planning the audit, performing and documenting the audit tests and reporting the results.

Audit Planning

Audit planning checklists gather information for planning and scoping the audit effectively. Checklists remind the auditor what reports to generate and review to prepare for the audit testing. Checklists may also include a questionnaire which the auditor or management completes to give a high-level snapshot of the area under audit review. Audit management relies on planning checklists to ensure the auditor properly planned the audit.

Audit Fieldwork

During the actual audit, checklists gather information for audit testing. Certain answers to checklist questions may indicate an audit issue. For example, a "no" answer to the question "Are fire extinguishers located at least every 40 feet in the warehouse?" is an audit issue if extinguishers are required to be located at those intervals. When possible, structure the checklist so that negative responses highlight concerns. Checklist questions and answers must be written clearly and in sufficient detail to support the conclusion.

Audit Review

Checklists are often used to confirm adequate audit work documentation. For example, the question "Do all work papers include a title, reference number and auditor initials?" indicates whether standards were followed. Additionally, audit management reviews the audit work for quality, consistency and accuracy. For example, the question "Did each test include the required audit sample size?" validates that adequate evidence exists to support the audit results.

Audit Reporting

The audit report is the final product from the review and is communicated to all stakeholders. Audit report checklists are developed to ensure relevant information is communicated with the proper tone and in the proper format for maximum impact. These checklists can also remind the auditor who the target audience is and the likely reaction to the audit report. The checklist can also ensure grammar, punctuation, spelling and writing style are in compliance with audit standards.