The mere mention of internal control often conjures images of red tape and bureaucracy preventing people from getting things done. And understandably so, the word control is right there in the name, and generally people don’t like things that try to influence or direct their behavior.Unfortunately, internal control has gotten a bad rap as a necessary evil that disrupts the work that needs to get done. Done right, however, internal controls are immensely valuable to an organization because they help ensure that the company, its teams, and its employees meet their goals.
All companies have internal controls, whether they are written down somewhere or not. Take, for example, a business owner who sets the expectation that the last employee who leaves the building locks the door. That means that an internal control has been established. Just establishing the expectation is not enough though. Sometimes information doesn’t get passed on when new employees are hired, and sometimes there is room for misunderstanding of informal controls. Formalizing internal controls into a framework is an important step and involves much more than compiling checklists. A complete framework requires detailed analysis and documentation.And, just as no two businesses are exactly alike, internal control frameworks are unique to each business and can’t be copied and pasted from one organization to the next.
With the right perspective, internal controls become enablers of a company’s business strategy. When a company defines their key business objectives, internal controls can be right there by their side underpinning the business objectives and helping to ensure that they are carried out.
The key to a successful relationship between internal controls and business strategy is to formalize the controls into a comprehensive internal control framework, complete with articulation of the control environment, management’s risk assessment and control objectives, cont
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