Compliance problems can bring down a business almost as quickly and completely as the controlled demolition of a building, leaving nothing but rubble and destruction behind. This might sound overly dramatic, but it's essentially true. Compliance regulations come from government, licensing organisations, industry associations, and other bodies which can directly control the way your business operates - and even stop it from operating.
That's why compliance is so crucial in today's world, and it's also the reason that investing in a top-notch internal auditor is vital. Unless you plan on running the gambit of intentionally skirting compliance regulations, it's of the utmost importance to have a compliance manager or internal auditor that will do their job like their life depended on it, because the life of your business does.
So what qualities are essential in a great auditor? While there are many finer points which could be listed, if the following five are met then the rest should naturally fall in place.
Above all else, a great auditor must have integrity. If they can be swayed or bought by political or social pressure, whether from internal or external sources, then their results are meaningless. Likewise they must have the integrity to remain discreet, since they will be privy to untold amounts and levels of information about the business. The mindset requires integrity, the process requires integrity, and the resulting reports, as well as the follow-up and follow-through on next actions, are useless without integrity. The importance of this quality cannot be overstated.
2. Knowledgeable and Informed
Having a degree on paper is nice, but having the knowledge, training, and hunger for information that the degree implies (but doesn't always truly represent) is much more important. Knowledge of business law and tax law is essential as a foundation. Further, they must have the desire and ability to constantly stay abreast of the ever-changing regulatory landscape. These are all pieces of the larger compliance puzzle, and if any piece is missing it leaves a gaping hole in that puzzle through which any number of potentially devastating mistakes or deficiencies can fall.
3. Organisation Skills
Any business will have numerous departments or areas that all operate under their own rules and procedures and handle different aspects of the overall operation. A compliance auditor has to be able to understand, deal with, and sometimes report to each one, often simultaneously. Keeping straight the various departmental audits and reports while also incorporating them in the larger auditing picture requires impeccable organisation, especially when considering that there will likely be different timetables for each as well.
4. Communication and People Skills
A compliance manager has to build relationships with the people they'll be dealing with when performing their audits, if they want things to go as smoothly as possible. They also need to have good partnering and teamwork skills, especially if they have a team of auditors working together. All of this requires good people skills, but equally important is communication - not only communicating between the various people involved in the process, but the ability to communicate the results and next actions required in a way that is clear and concise to both internal management and external agencies.
5. Innovation/Problem Solving Skills
Every organisation has its own structure, processes, and operating procedures. These parts are all intricately combined to create the bigger machine, and it's important to understand their interoperability and reliance on each other. This requires the ability to think critically and solve problems that may affect different areas in different ways at the same time. Being able to innovate and think around corners can be vital in solving compliance problems that could end up being very complex ultimately.
Innovating also means staying aware of the latest technology and tools that can help streamline the auditing process, such as our Compliance Checklist software, ensuring that operations can continue forward with little or no delays or roadblocks and that the audit remains in step with any recent changes in regulations or requirements.