Safeguarding Success: The Role of Enterprise Risk Assessment

by Poorva Dange


Enterprise risk assessment is a critical component of the internal audit function, as it helps organizations identify, evaluate, and manage risks that could impact their strategic objectives. By conducting a thorough risk assessment, internal auditors can provide valuable insights to senior management and the board of directors on the organization's risk profile and the effectiveness of its risk management processes. This proactive approach not only helps mitigate potential risks but also enhances the overall governance and control environment of the organization. 

Safeguarding Success: The Role of Enterprise Risk Assessment

Primary Objectives:

  • Develop ranking criteria and a method to assess the significance of business risks to the organization
  • Understand and document how the relevant enterprise risks threaten achievement of business objectives
  • Develop a consolidated list of relevant risks that can be categorized, ranked and prioritized
  • Associate the strategic and process-level risks with the organization’s key business processes to determine “process association strength” and assess the adequacy of the organization’s control environment supporting the business operations
  • Validate findings and develop basis for the Internal Audit Plan
Internal Audit Framework

Assessing Enterprise Risk 

1. Develop Enterprise Risk Criteria: In order to enhance the effectiveness of the internal audit function, it is crucial for organizations to develop robust enterprise risk criteria. By integrating enterprise risk criteria into the internal audit process, companies can better identify and assess potential risks that may impact the overall business operations. This proactive approach allows for a more comprehensive evaluation of risks across the organization, enabling the internal audit team to prioritize their efforts and focus on areas that pose the greatest threat to the company's objectives. Additionally, by establishing clear risk criteria, organizations can ensure consistency in risk assessment and decision-making processes, helping to streamline the internal audit function and improve overall efficiency.

2. Identify Enterprise Risks and Facilitate Discussions: To effectively identify enterprise risks, internal auditors must have a thorough understanding of the organization's objectives, strategies, and business processes. In addition to utilizing tools such as risk assessment surveys and workshops, internal auditors should also engage in discussions with key stakeholders to gather insights and perspectives on potential risks. These discussions can help facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of the organization's risk landscape and enable auditors to develop risk-based audit plans that address key areas of concern. By actively engaging in dialogue with stakeholders, internal auditors can create a collaborative environment that promotes the identification and mitigation of enterprise risks, ultimately helping organizations achieve their objectives while safeguarding their assets and reputation.

3. Perform Enterprise Risk Assessment: Enterprise Risk Assessment in the internal audit function involves the identification and evaluation of potential risks that may impact an organization's ability to achieve its objectives. This process entails assessing risks across various areas such as financial, operational, compliance, and strategic. Internal auditors play a critical role in this process by analyzing the organization's risk appetite and tolerance levels, identifying key risk factors, and developing strategies to mitigate and manage these risks effectively. By conducting regular risk assessments, internal auditors can provide valuable insights to senior management and the board of directors, helping them make informed decisions to enhance the organization's risk management framework and achieve sustainable growth and success.

4. Associate Risks to Key Business Processes: It is essential to be aware of the risks associated with key business processes to ensure effective risk management and compliance within an organization. Some of the associate risks to key business processes include fraud, errors, and inefficiencies in financial reporting, operations, and compliance processes. Fraudulent activities within key business processes can lead to financial losses and damage to the organization's reputation. Errors in financial reporting can result in inaccurate financial statements, leading to potential regulatory fines and investor mistrust. Inefficiencies in operations can hinder business performance and impact overall profitability. Therefore, internal auditors play a crucial role in identifying and mitigating these risks through thorough assessments and recommendations to strengthen internal controls and improve overall business processes.

5. Communicate Results and Validate Findings: effective communication of audit results involves articulating the findings, recommendations, and potential risks in a clear and concise manner to key stakeholders, such as management and the audit committee. This helps in fostering transparency, understanding, and accountability within the organization. Additionally, validation of findings involves verifying the accuracy and reliability of the audit results through independent review, analysis, and evidence gathering. By validating findings, internal auditors can enhance the credibility and reliability of the audit process, ensuring that the organization can trust and act upon the audit findings with confidence.


Implementing Enterprise Risk Assessment in the internal audit function is crucial for identifying and managing potential risks that could impact the organization's objectives. By conducting a thorough risk assessment, internal auditors can provide valuable insights and recommendations to help mitigate risks and enhance overall organizational resilience. It is essential for organizations to prioritize risk assessment within their internal audit function to ensure they are well-prepared to face potential challenges in today's dynamic business environment.

Internal Audit Framework