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Global Institute of Internal AuditorsBreadcrumb SeparatorNewsBreadcrumb SeparatorNEW! Global Knowledge Brief, "Effective Workpapers: Learning the Basics"

​NEW! Global Knowledge Brief, “Effective Workpapers: Learning the Basics”

From Documentation and Engagement to Communication and Results

Just as good communication is at the core of a quality and successful organization, good documentation can put good communication in a manageable context and render it central to effective policies, procedures, regulations, legal matters, disputes, and audits. Many have heard the phrase, “If it is not in writing, it didn’t happen.” This phrase is often used as an impetus to strive for better, and more complete, documentation. Simply put, it just makes sense to document what is planned, what is done, and what is communicated.

Internal auditors approach their work in a systematic, disciplined manner, and workpapers enable a systematic, disciplined approach to documentation. Workpapers provide evidence of the entire engagement process — from planning to performing to communicating.

Engagement workpapers are used to document the information generated throughout the engagement process, including planning; testing, analyzing, and evaluating data; and formulating engagement results and conclusions. Workpapers may be maintained on paper, electronically, or both. Use of internal audit software may enhance consistency and efficiency.

Furthermore, advances in internal audit software utilized by many internal audit departments allow the review of workpapers to occur remotely, such that a member of the audit team and the reviewer need not be in the same geography or time zone to ensure conformance with IIA Standard 2340: Engagement Supervision.

Ensuring the sufficiency of documentation during all phases of an audit engagement is not an option; it is required by IIA Standard 2320: Analysis and Evaluation, and it is common sense. Effective workpapers allow internal audit staff to ensure that they are in alignment with the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing regarding the documentation of information.

As IIA Global Board of Directors Chairman Naohiro Mouri states in his chairman’s theme video, Emphasize the Basics, Elevate the Standards, “Wherever in the world you are, conformance with the Standards is essential.” He continues by stating, “The Standards are crucial to build; to construct a proud and successful career in internal audit.”

This Global Knowledge Brief discusses how effective workpapers are essential to the success of the internal audit activity. The report is available to members at