The auditor always walks alone in the lunch break

The auditor always walks alone in the lunch break

This is where the blog posts of Birthe Christiansen from the BCM Academy GmbH, our subsidiary, will be published.

Have you ever noticed that? How faces change when someone says they work in Internal Audit? Or how the colleagues in the chair slide down when "the miller" from IR appears in the telephone display? Why Internal Audit is a useful institution, you can read in this blog post.

Image source: Shutterstock, royalty-free​

The other day, for the preliminary discussion of an in-house training course, I went with my client to the canteen for lunch - yes, that was in the pre-Corona period. That day we were on the road a little later and the canteen was already well filled. At a table for 8 people sat a lady - alone. I made the suggestion that we could ask there to join us. "By no means! We will sit as far away as possible ..." my client replied. I: "Uh, why?". He: "This is the auditor." I had to smile, whereby I somehow felt sorry for the lady who actually seemed quite nice. Especially since nobody really sat down with her during the whole break...

Frustrating BCM Lifecycle Gaps

My customer then started to pour his heart out. After all, he would not have enough financial resources made available to him, so it was no wonder that the BCM lifecycle could not be implemented so well. After all, he is responsible for other processes and would rather do BCM full-time. But savings are made everywhere. Top management always sets the goal of making BCM "not too big" - it should satisfy external auditors, but not be too expensive. And in general, he is glad that he has been given money to train his coordinators for two days. Nevertheless, he is fully aware of the gaps in his life cycle - which frustrates him.

The BCM lifecycle consists of several phases that build on each other and are interdependent. Each lifecycle year ends with the so-called "validation phase". This in turn comprises several to-dos for the BC Manager and also the operational level, the specialist departments with their BC coordinators:

  • Test & Practice

  • ​Maintenance of the documents

  • Audits

All steps together, and thus the entire validation phase, are aimed at proving the viability of the BCM system. The quality should be improved.

The blinds go down on the audit...

Quality ... improve ... that all sounds great! Testing and practicing also sounds exciting - when it comes to document maintenance the enthusiasm is already waning, but at the audit it is often all over - the blinds go down. Why is that so?

The auditor checks the correctness of processes, i.e. looks at how process owners have done their job. He usually does this with an audit catalogue. Auditors are understandably very precise in this respect - which often gives them unflattering names. "Kontrolletti" or "Erbsenzähler" are relatively friendly expressions. As a rule, the auditor announces his visit beforehand, which often leads to a bad mood in the respective area.

The aim is to look for weak points and deficiencies, almost to detect them, and then to record them in writing in a report. And where does the report go? To the very top, of course... From there the pressure is then increased again - why are there such and such gaps here and there? Why is this process still not fully implemented? Lots of unpleasant questions... Often the time until the first visit of the auditor is used to sow a little grass in a hurry or to quickly fill in certain gaps. Who would like to look bad for the reasons mentioned above?

This rather negative basic attitude is certainly human in a certain way, the person relates the found weaknesses directly and immediately to himself personally.

However, if the BC Manager can manage to free itself from this automatism trap, another view may be possible. Ultimately we can also see the auditor as our ally.

BC Managers who have completed their training with us at the BCM Academy all have something in common: they are enthusiastic about the "BCM" process. This means that they are all - at the latest after the training - very keen to build up a practical and efficient but definitely functioning system. This intrinsic motivation is a really good prerequisite.

No support from above - this is often the problem

My aforementioned customer at the canteen discussion shares this attitude - his problem and that of many others is just a completely different one: the enthusiasm is not really shared by top management. The result: no support - neither in terms of the embassy nor in terms of resources - financial or personnel. And it is only with enthusiasm that one cannot set up a process "properly".

But now the auditor comes into play again. He or she is usually also very conscientious in his or her work and yes, weak points are certainly found - but this can also be an opportunity for us BC managers! As we have already learned in my blog article "Melon Reporting - Green Outside, Red Inside", top management has a "red allergy". A lot of red could mean that we might finally get an appointment "up there" where we have to explain all the red. If we prepare ourselves well for this meeting, we might be able to create a little more awareness at the top and, if necessary, get more resources for better implementation.

And then there are the other cases where the BC Manager simply does a good job - with the best of his knowledge and conscience. And yet mistakes can be made or points "forgotten" - so it's good if someone neutral takes a look and points out gaps to us in quiet times, which we can then close. Better in normal operation than when our BCM system blows up in our faces exactly when we need it most: In a crisis or an emergency.

He'd never thought of it that way before...

During the lunch break with my customer, I simply explained my other view of things - he had never seen it like that before.

So maybe we should (post-Corona) sit down with our colleagues from the audit department from time to time and have lunch together or a coffee ... from my own experience I can say that auditors are simply nice people who want to do their job well. A job that is supposed to make a company better and safer - if THAT is not what we have in common with BC managers, crisis managers and ITSC managers!

#planb #goforresilience #bcmacademyhh #alanceforauditors