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The Effect of the Internal Control System on the Activity Audit Process



Dr. Cem Niyazi DURMUŞ


Internal auditing operates in accordance with today’s competitive and economic conditions and is known as one of the most critical functions in extending the healthy life of the business. This function, which covers activities related to auditing both financial and non-financial processes, is a process that aims to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the internal control systems of organizations and supports the organization in achieving its determined goals by using its resources efficiently and effectively. The audit of operational processes, which are the main reason for businesses’ financial and accounting processes, is crucial compared to financial and accounting auditing. 

The change in the operational processes in which the main activities of businesses are carried out dramatically affects the financial situation of businesses. Therefore, we can define the most significant factor in the growth or shrinkage of businesses as the establishment and correct implementation of controls in business processes in accordance with the activities. 

In this study, operational auditing, which is a part of internal auditing, was drawn to the importance of auditing non-financial activities and addressing any deficiencies detected in the internal control system of the Enterprise in a timely manner with correct suggestions. In addition, the impact of the effectiveness of existing internal controls on the activity audit was investigated.


As businesses grow and their activities become more complex, it has become difficult for management to control corporate activities directly. This development for business management can only be resolved by establishing and managing an effective internal control system. An internal control system designed according to business processes and operated correctly significantly contributes to internal and external auditing activities. 

The primary purpose of reviewing the control system of the enterprise in the types of audits conducted by internal auditors is to determine whether the organization adheres to the control system established to achieve the determined goals, whether the system works correctly, and whether it acts in accordance with the instructions and rules determined by the top management. 

An internal control system and internal audit activity are required to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in business activities, prevent errors and frauds, use resources effectively and efficiently, and carry out these activities according to the law and legislation. 

Both are concerned with the effectiveness of the process in achieving the organization’s goals. Operational auditing is the business’s organizational structure, production and marketing policies, financing structure and policies, IT activities, etc. It covers many activities. This study aims to understand the impact of the effectiveness of the internal control system on the operational audit process and contribute to the literature by drawing attention to the importance of these two issues that are vital for businesses. 

The study consists of three main parts. In the first chapter, topics such as definitions, features, and components of the concept of internal control, also called “management control,” are included in order to understand and perceive it correctly. 

In the second part, the characteristics, requirements, and process of internal audit and operational audit, which is a part of internal audit, are mentioned, and finally, in the third chapter, the interaction between them is explained, including the process and result of the research conducted by interview method in order to understand the effect of the effectiveness of the internal control system on the operational audit process.


2. Internal Control

Internal control is the ability of an institution to ensure that its policies achieve the desired results, protecting programs from waste, fraud, and mismanagement. It is the set of organizations, policies, and procedures established for the purpose of obtaining reliable and timely information, protecting it, reporting it and using it in decision-making mechanisms when necessary (Kurnaz and Çetinoğlu, 2010: 39). Internal control is a management system that provides adequate and reasonable assurance for the effective and efficient use of the institution’s resources in accordance with its determined purposes, the compliance of all transactions with the relevant legislation and the production of regular, reliable and timely information about the activities, the protection of the institution’s assets, and the prevention of fraud, abuse and corruption. system ( Tümer, 2010: 11 ).

2.1. Purpose and Scope of Internal Control

The purpose of internal control is defined as providing sufficient assurance regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of business activities, increasing the reliability of financial information, and ensuring compliance with specific laws and other regulations (Kurnaz and Çetinoğlu, 2010: 39). The internal control system covers all activities of the organization, but the number, nature, and style of controls may vary depending on the organization’s objectives and the risks it encounters. Internal control covers all operational, technical, commercial, financial, and administrative activities of the business and is not limited to controls related to accounting and financial reporting (Eciia, 2005: 22).

2.2. Components of the Internal Control System (Coso 2013)

It was published on May 14, 2013, under the title “Internal Control-Integrated Framework,” with updates made in light of the requirements ( The five interconnected components in this process are as follows:

2.2.1. Control Environment

The primary basis of the internal control system is the control environment. The control environment provides the environment that affects the overall quality of internal control, forms the basis, and determines the internal control rules. The control environment effectively determines the corporate strategy and types of objectives and structures control activities (Bayar, 17/1, 2010: 87).

2.2.2. Risk assessment

The institution determines its objectives, establishes an effective control environment, evaluates the risks encountered in realizing its mission and objectives, and creates a suitable basis for creating and developing appropriate responses to these risks.

2.2.3. Control Activities

The primary strategy for eliminating risks is carried out through internal control activities. Control activities can be preventive and detective. In internal control practices, it is essential to provide assurance about the effectiveness of the organization’s business processes.

2.2.4. Information and Communication

A practical information and communication system plays a vital role in an institution’s operation and control of its activities. Corporate management must communicate appropriately, thoroughly, reliably, accurately, and in a timely manner, both internally and externally.

2.2.5. Tracing

Since internal control is a dynamic process that must constantly adapt to the risks and changes faced by the organization, it must monitor the internal control system to ensure that it keeps pace with changing goals, environment, resources, and risks. Internal control systems should be monitored to evaluate the quality of system performance during the period.

2.3. Factors Determining the Effectiveness of Internal Control

Factors that play an essential role in the effectiveness of the internal control system are that the components of the internal control framework and relevant principles are present and working together. Therefore, internal control must be accompanied by the correct establishment and effective implementation process. In the effectiveness of internal control, it is crucial that the relevant principles exist and are in working order and that these principles are relevant and applied correctly (TİDE, 2013).

2.4. Control Classification in Internal Control System

The primary purpose of examining internal control as accounting control and managerial control, which consists of two parts, is to support the determination of the scope of audit work in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. Internal controls should not be limited to accounting or financial reporting controls; in this context, the internal control system can be examined in two parts: accounting controls and managerial controls (Eciia, 2005: 22).

2.4.1. Administrative Controls

The organization’s plan covers all methods related to the effectiveness and efficiency of operations and adherence to management policies. Managerial controls indirectly relate to financial records. Administrative controls generally include controls such as statistical analyses, time surveys, activity reports, personnel training programs, and quality controls (Güredin, 2007: 166).

2.4.2. Accounting Controls

Accounting controls are defined as internal controls related to protecting company assets and the reliability and protection of financial records. Accounting controls are directly adequate on financial statements. For this reason, it is in the scope of examination in the control system assessment by the auditor. Accounting controls consist of three elements. These elements are briefly as follows (Güredin, 2007, p. 169).

2.4.3. Types of Internal Control Systems

Internal controls are generally known in five types:

2.4.4. Preventive Controls

Preventive control activities can be defined as controls that provide the opportunity to prevent possible irregularities from occurring and to detect possible fraud and corruption in a timely manner. (Ministry of Finance Internal Control Guide, 2006: 61)

2.4.5. Router Controls

These are controls that serve as guidance for the achievement of business objectives. It effectively achieves or creates the desired result (Toroslu, 2014).

2.4.6. Detecting (Revealing) Controls

The actions designed to detect an undesirable situation quickly after it occurs are detective controls.

2.4.7. Corrective Controls

Corrective controls aim to improve the errors detected in the previous control process and correct the damage after the risk occurs (Ministry of Finance Internal Control Guide, 2006: 61).

2.4.8. Gap Filling (Compensatory) Controls

These are controls made to replace control with no control or a high cost partially.

3. Internal Audit

Internal auditing is basically the activities that evaluate whether the existing internal control system is working in accordance with its purpose and report the result of the evaluation to the senior management. The definition of internal audit published by the International Internal Audit Institute is as follows:

“Internal auditing is an independent and impartial assurance and consulting activity that improves and adds value to an organization’s operations. Internal audit helps the organization achieve its goals by bringing a systematic and disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of its risk management, control, and governance processes.” (International Internal Auditing Standards Professional Practice Framework, TİDE, The IIA Research Foundation)

3.1. Purpose and Scope of Internal Audit

The primary purpose of internal audits is to help senior management fulfill their responsibilities. The internal auditor evaluates the internal control system for adequacy and whether it provides sufficient confidence in whether the organization achieves its goals and objectives efficiently and economically. Internal auditing includes the activities of reviewing the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization’s internal control and the quality of its performance.

3.2. Types of Internal Audit

Although the internal audit department is managed independently, it functions as an independent body. The types of internal audit are: 

(Law No. 5018 art.63,64, Regulation art.8: 15).

4. Operational Audit

Activity audit: This comes to the fore due to the difficulties encountered in measuring the success of management and policies. Examining businesses in terms of effectiveness and efficiency is called operational auditing. 

In this type of audit, it is determined whether the organization has achieved its goals and whether its activities are economical and efficient, the organization’s policies and implementation results are evaluated, and it operates by making recommendations to the management (Gürbüz, 1998;12). 

Operational auditing systematically monitors and examines business activities and uses resources efficiently and effectively (Messier, 1997: 12).

4.1. Purpose and Scope of Operational Audit

If a general framework is drawn for the purposes of operational auditing, they can be listed as follows (Özer, 1997: 75).

  • Measuring the success of corporate management,
  • Measuring the effectiveness and success of corporate policies,
  • Measuring the effectiveness and success of internal control,
  • To measure the success and effectiveness of the activity that will affect the institution’s achievement of its determined objectives,
  • It can be summarized as making recommendations to the management in order to ensure stable growth and healthy achievement of the institution’s goals.

In other words, operational auditing, as a process that systematically reviews the institution’s activities, aims to reveal opportunities for the institution’s development and make recommendations. (Carmichael, Willingham, and Schaller, 1996: 629). 

The operational audit’s examination scope may include the enterprise’s organizational structure, production methods, marketing policies, and information technology activities. Operational auditing covers studies to determine operational, managerial, and managerial performances for any business activity.

4.2. Types of Activity Audit

Activity audit covers many activities taking place in the institution; for example, It covers systems and management activity controls related to a wide range of activities such as marketing, engineering, quality control, warehouse, receiving, purchasing, and data processing (Whittington And Pany, 1998: 756). Activity audits are generally grouped under four headings (Arens, Elder, and Beasley, 2005: 769).

4.2.1. Functional Controls

Functional controls refer to categorizing institutional activities, such as production and procurement functions. The assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of the internal controls of functions created in various ways is referred to as functional control.

4.2.2. Organizational Controls

Organizational control attempts to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency level of the interaction of functions within the organization. Therefore, the organization’s plan and coordination activities gain importance in this type of control.

4.2.3. System Audit

System audit is an interdisciplinary activity. For example, the procurement system begins with a customer order that initiates the procurement or inventory activity, including the movement of the relevant raw material, supplier accounts, and raw material storage.

4.2.4. Special Tasks

Within the scope of the activity audit, management can assign particular tasks. For example, making the information system in the institution more efficient and investigating the possibility of fraud in a specific department.

5. Research On The Effect Of Internal Control System Effectiveness On Operational Audit

5.1. Purpose of the research

It is vital for businesses to establish and manage internal control systems designed in accordance with business processes in order to prevent possible errors within the organization, identify strategic, reputation, and management risks, and take precautions against these risks in order to protect their assets and ensure the continuity of their activities by keeping up with this pace of competition in the sectors. is important. 

Today’s perception of internal auditing has turned into “management consultancy,” and its field of duty has become focused on activity auditing and compliance auditing, covering not only financial processes but also all processes and directing the management to fulfill their duties in monitoring the established internal control system, evaluating the quality of the controls and measuring the adherence of the process to the control system. offers significant support. 

For this reason, by explaining the concepts of the internal control system and operational audit in the study, it tried to understand the effects on the operational audit process and whether the internal control system is effective or not, and it was aimed to benefit the literature and those who practice internal auditing by identifying and explaining the interaction style between these two essential issues.

5.2. Research Method

In this research, which is about the effect of the effectiveness of the internal control system on the operational audit process, qualitative techniques were used, and the interview method was chosen to learn this interaction style. For this purpose, interviews were held with expert internal auditors operating in different public and private sectors.

Although the interview is done face to face between two or more people for a particular purpose, it can also be done through instant voice and image transmitters, such as video chat over the phone and the internet. In this way, more detailed and reliable information can be obtained in the study. He preferred the interview method, assuming the information’s accuracy and reliability would be high. 

Assuming that the results obtained from 20 experts in the field will be scientifically sufficient to understand the interaction of these two critical issues, it has been concluded that they will be able to reach a conclusion and will be sufficiently descriptive. Therefore, it was conducted through scheduled appointments with 20 expert internal auditors, face-to-face at workplaces, or remotely via an internet connection. 

The questions to be answered have been prepared as a table, and explanations are attached to the table to make it easier to understand. The names of the participants were not disclosed in the evaluation of the data obtained from the interviews.

In preparing the interview questions, the components of the COSO internal control framework and the principles related to the components were considered. For this purpose, TİDE’s Internal Control-Integrated Framework magazine, published in May 2013, and other relevant sources were used. The tables that provide us with information about the characteristics of the research participants are as follows;

Evaluation of participants according to their sectors


Evaluation of participants according to gender


Evaluation according to the educational status of the participants


Evaluation according to the professional experience of the participants

5 – 10420
10 – 15735
15 – 20945

6. Conclusion of the Research

In the results obtained from the numerical explanation tables prepared according to the number of answers obtained from the General Evaluation Table shown above; In general, in case the internal control system is not effective, the Audit Techniques used in the activity audit applied when performing internal audit are shown below with a graphical explanation.

According to the opinions received from a limited number of people in this table, the Document Review Technique used during the activity audit carried out within the scope of the internal audit was the most used audit technique, while the Physical Examination Technique was the least used audit technique. 

Likewise, in the results obtained from the numerical explanation tables prepared according to the number of answers obtained from the General Evaluation Table; In general, in case the internal control system is not effective, the types of operational audits conducted during internal audits are shown graphically as follows:

As seen in the table, ‘Functional Audit’, which means process control, is the most used type of activity audit, while ‘Organizational Audit’, which means department-based audit, and ‘Special Tasks’, which are carried out upon the preference of the management, are stated to be the least applied audit types.

As a result, if the internal control system is not effective, it causes the auditor to allocate excessive resources in terms of time and labor through the document review techniques used within the scope of the most commonly applied functional audit, and this creates a liability for the business in terms of additional time and cost. 

For this reason, while the company must allocate time for development and activities to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its operating processes, it will spend time and cost to correct the deficiencies or incorrect practices in the internal control system as a result of the audit report, in line with the recommendations of the auditors.

Since operational auditing and internal controls, which are parts of Internal Audit, are related to the effectiveness and efficiency of the process in achieving the institution’s goals, their biggest common points are that they complement each other and are related to the internal structure of the institution.

We can also define activity audit, which is the examination and evaluation function of the internal control system, as the monitoring function of the internal control system.

While the activity audit results are presented to the senior management within the scope of the internal audit report, it provides reasonable assurance regarding the internal control system and also provides consultancy services to the senior management by offering suggestions for the improvement of the system.

For internal audit activities to be carried out in a healthy and practical manner, an effective internal control system must exist and function correctly. The existence and effectiveness of the internal control system will ensure that the value that internal audit will add to the institution and that it will focus on the development activities of the institution. 

The existence of an internal audit will provide added value to the institution when audit activities detect errors and deficiencies in the internal control system, evaluate the internal control system within the framework of risk-oriented audit plans, and offer improving suggestions.

If it is determined that there is an effective internal control in the enterprise, it will save resources for the auditor, but if, as a result of the examination, it is determined that there are deficiencies in the enterprise and the absence of an effective internal control system, this situation will create additional duties for the auditor. An ineffective and insufficient internal control system will not be able to achieve the main objectives of control. 

As a result of the activity audit, the weaknesses and strengths of the institution are identified, and suggestions are made to eliminate the weaknesses. In this case, the benefits and value it will add to the business are too important to be ignored. The auditor’s ability to benefit the business as a result of the operational audit depends on giving correct and appropriate suggestions. 

As a result of the effective operational audit, the quality and effectiveness of the company’s internal controls are evaluated, and criticisms are made according to the deficiency or redundancy of the controls, the risks they carry, and suggestions to eliminate or minimize the risks. 

Operational auditing measures the organization’s set goals and objectives and examines all factors, especially internal controls, that may affect the achievement of goals and objectives. Therefore, adequate and effective internal control helps the activities to be carried out correctly, successfully, and in accordance with the objectives, making it easier to achieve the determined goals and objectives.

It has been deemed necessary to carry out audit techniques within the scope of internal audit to measure the internal control system’s effectiveness and ensure continuity of its effectiveness. 

The development of internal control in the enterprise, the increase in its effectiveness in operating processes, and the ability of internal control to apply sufficient and effective methods can be achieved by taking into account the reports resulting from the operational audit. 

Therefore, in today’s competitive conditions, constantly updated technologies, and the desire of businesses to globalize, these two important concepts should gain an important dimension in the strategic plans of the management to ensure continued operations while swiftly adapting to these changes.

The benefits of operational auditing in achieving the objectives of the business and the value it will add to the continuity of the business are too important to be ignored.


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