Is this the era of decisioning audits?

By Ernest Falkner III

Zillion Dollar Thinking


The result of a thorough audit should be an unbiased evaluation, a third party examination and a report on the subject or object. In practice, audits could be strategically applied to most every area of our corporate and/or personal life. The possibility here is decisioning; more specifically, auditing the decisioning process and product.

Ernst and Young, among other accounting firms, are announcing that they are hiring … yes, in this economy. A Fox financial news commentator suggested it was because of all the recent corporate fraud, corruption, corporate bond ratings, stock prices, SOX, etc., but one of the primary functions of larger accounting firms is auditing.

Audit definitions and synonyms:

Au´dit n.1. An audience; a hearing. 2. An examination in general; 3. The result of such an examination, or an account as adjusted by auditors; final account; 4. A general receptacle or receiver.

Synonyms: inspection, check, checkup, examination, going-over, review, scan, scrutiny, survey, interpretation.

Objectivity

The result of a thorough audit should be an unbiased evaluation, a third party examination and a report on the subject or object. In practice, audits could be strategically applied to most every area of our corporate and/or personal life.

The possibility here is decisioning; more specifically, auditing the decisioning process and product.

Considering the helicopter view, the prized ingredient is just the right dose and value of objectivity. That should be true no matter what is being audited, especially in measuring decision making.

When the accountants come in to audit (notice that it is almost always on the home turf), they can ask for just about anything. The same should hold true in a decisioning audit. Whatever the auditor needs to find the how and/or why a decision or decisions got made should be readily available. If not, that should be the first clue for an honest or orderly audit. As with the accountant, where there are no actual records to assess, it would become a very short assignment.

Actions to consider

Create a system of decisioning that can be audited by a qualified source that could produce a similar product, as with an accounting audit.

Outline of a suggested checklist:
  • Create a letter of purpose and understanding about importance of audits
  • Adopt a model or universal system (Once adopted, use for a minimum of five years)
  • Agree that every decision maker will abide by the same program (best in writing)
  • Keep records with participants identified
  • Integrate various A/V recording/digital devices
  • Pledge not to cut or transpose information
  • Pledge to keep the information secure and backed up
  • Consider all important decisions within the program
These are only a few considerations that one may include in developing an objective decisioning program. The point is, this is a blank canvas that could be the object of a valuable piece of art (and science). It could become as vital as an accounting audit, and if genuinely developed, as common and routine to get to a defining side of the truth. Summarily, look at the result of the lack of objective decisioning today. Enough said.

Author’s Note: We hope that in some way this concept may spark a true interest in our audience to the point of someone running with this unique opportunity. Who knows, we could be creating jobs here?

The real question: Which is more important in this scenario: The numbers or the decision about where and how to list them in the financials? While one is always considered as standard operating procedure, the other is yet to be considered.

As always, you decide.