Importance of Control Self-Assessment (CSA) to Organisations

Written by Ekow Dickson on 3 April 2018

CSA is an assessment of controls carried out by staff and management involved in the area or process being assessed to provide assurance to stakeholders, customers and other parties that internal control systems of the organisation are reliable.

The assessment is performed by employees involved in the area or process being assessed rather than an independent party. The objective is to assist management and/ or persons responsible for monitoring or identifying control weaknesses and risk they might not have thought of. This ensures employees are aware of risk to the business and conduct periodic, proactive reviews of control and risk.

It is argued that the lack of independence in the assessment process reduces the reliability of the results, but a well designed CSA technique is likely to produce reliable results. In most instances, the results are more effective than that achieved by an independent person examining the objective and evidence obtained during the process.

The CSA process offers management or work teams directly responsible for their individual business functions been assessed to;

  • Participate in the assessment of their Internal Controls and to develop a sense of ownership of the controls, this in most instances reduces their resistance to control improvement initiatives.
  • Detect risk in the early stages and develop an action Plan to address any identified weaknesses and to increase communication between operational and top Management.
  • Evaluate the likelihood of achieving the business objectives and increasing awareness of risk and Internal Controls.

CSA can be implemented by facilitated workshops within a structured environment where functional management and control professionals can come together to discuss how best to develop the control structure for the business function been assessed.

The facilitator must have some basic skills such as the ability to ask good questions that probe the topic and not be in a threatening manner, but rather support the decision making process, the facilitator must also be able to manage the dynamics of the group and exhibit the ability to manage various personalities and resolve conflicts to ensure the ultimate goal of the assessment is achieved.

CSA is participatory in nature and the benefits to organisations are the opportunities for participants to learn more about controls and enhance their awareness and responsibilities regarding risk management. Staff members also become involved in implementing controls and maintaining an effective control environment to help generate useful information to management and auditors to understand the quality of the internal control procedures and related risk, which will ultimately contribute to meeting the organisations strategic goals and objectives.

In conclusion, Control self assessment is an important aspect of Internal control and risk management procedures but it is important to sound a word of caution that this should not be mistaken as an audit function replacement and It is not intended to remove audit responsibilities but rather to enhance their understanding of the internal control environment and  risk assessment program.

For any further information about the CSA please contact Ekow Dickson at ekow.dickson@wsm.co.uk

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Ekow Dickson
Corporate Client Manager