If you are a SOX function in a company with a separate internal audit function, work closely with your internal auditors to understand the scope of their audit plan, and where it might make sense for internal audit to work with the SOX group to maximize collective resources. Even if you are early in the journey of relying on one another’s work, focus on building coordination. My team has developed an emerging and increasingly successful partnership with our internal auditors in coordinating audits with SOX testing. As part of the scoping process, we will naturally look at internal audit’s key points of focus; even if it doesn’t mean we will dial back our focus, we’ll at least align with internal audit on timing to avoid tripping over each other and causing unnecessary pain for the business. Especially during these times, when auditors and regulators alike have increased expectations on internal controls, learning how to be savvy and efficient in resource allocation is key to maximizing the benefit of your team.
As we anticipate the next shift to a hybrid-remote working model, speed bumps that occurred during last year’s SOX planning process, such as tracking down physical evidence, may ease up. Though it is hard to predict exactly how the rest of 2021 will unfold, a positive take away for my team has been our ability to leverage learnings from 2020 again this year. Having spent a considerable amount of time understanding the changes to our control environment as a result of COVID-19, my team has continued to apply the resulting knowledge and adjustments to our SOX focus for 2021.