Most of us, if not all, think that Internal Audit and just plain ole audit per se is on continuous police mode -- something or someone put there by Management to act as live cctv's to catch people doing things redhandedly. But as an Internal Audit practitioner for more than 6 years, that really is not the case, well at least not in its entirety.
Yes, internal audit does that - catch or try to catch people committing fraud, taking things from the office and bringing them to their homes, conniving to reimburse personal expenses, and so many other things that we sometimes think are not bad for business because we have grown so accustomed to them we think they're part of the daily grind. But aside from that, Internal Audit actually has more to offer than just be "catchers". Internal auditors can be investigators, analysts that can look into the whole business and try to pinpoint areas that lack control or loopholes that allow anomalies to slowly squeeze their way into the company. Internal audit also helps put up defenses or controls that do just that - defend the company from all these nuances.
So how exactly does Internal Audit partner with your business? Here's a short and uncomplicated list:
Getting to know you. No, this is not a song nor a musicale we're talking about. Internal Auditors will spend time with Management and the business process owners (accountants, staff, operations supervisors, etc) to get to know the ins and outs of the operations. Management should be able to make the auditors understand the entire business and how it works without divulging trade secrets (unless they want to!) so the auditors can now determine what actions, procedures, or documents are out of place. This then leads to risk assessment or pointing out areas or processes that may have issues.