How Cambridge Strategy Audits Work

Cambridge Strategy publishes 24 non-financial, company self-assessment audits - all ready-to-run in your organisation (see a full list). Many of them include some questionnaires which can be scored but most of the questionnaires are templates which can be adapted to suit the exact needs of your business. They cover three functional areas - Human Resources, Marketing, and Strategy & General Management.

Most of the audits are about 100 pages long. Each begins with an Executive Summary and includes a 24-page section on conducting an audit (who to include in the audit team, how long it will take, how to analyse and share the results, etc).

Each audit is presented as a series of steps, to make it as easy as possible for the individual or team running the audit to do so quickly and easily.

The early steps of each audit usually involve some research and discussion to make sure that you know exactly what you are auditing and why. Subsequent steps focus on a particular area or process and will include detailed audit questions. These can be presented in several different forms. If personal interviews with staff members, customers or others have been suggested, you will normally find a sample interview sheet. In other cases you may find questions for a written survey or more detailed questions on a particular function or process which need to researched and answered.

Lastly, you will find guidance on pulling together the audit results, presenting them, drawing conclusions and then building an action plan for improvement.

Why you should use Cambridge Strategy Audits

Executives worldwide use these audits to gather more complete information about the departments and processes which they manage and to help their organisations compete more effectively. They provide the ideal way to:

  • Analyse departments and processes to pinpoint weaknesses and identify problems before they happen. Audits will help identify improvement priorities for managers by showing which changes will have the highest impact on overall performance.
  • Implement world-class best practices. The audits have been developed and written by consultants with experience of business improvement programmes in countless organisations. Their experience is yours to use and apply.
  • Conduct a reality check. The processes carried out in your organisation may differ from those that were planned. By systematically gathering data on how reality compares with what managers assume is true, companies become more resilient in the face of change.
  • Ensure hands-on control of every area of the business. When audit information is systematically collected and shared, it enables various parts of the organisation to work together effectively. This breaking down of barriers enables a company to respond more quickly to the demands of customers and other important players.
  • Cut costs and become more competitive. These non-financial management audits will result in cost savings or increased efficiency that lead to competitive advantage.
  • As organisations become ‘flatter’ and decision-making authority is spread more widely, conducting audits and sharing the findings creates a system for gathering and disseminating information more widely.
  • Audits identify what is being done right and reinforce those practices by encouraging regular internal benchmarking. Aside from highlighting opportunities for improvement, audits lead to the discovery of those processes and procedures that contribute to the company's success.
  • Measure and improve performance across the organisation. When they are integrated into the management process, audits can measure performance improvements and determine the impact of changes that have been implemented in the company.
  • Compiling audit information increases management's ability to address concerns raised by increasing regulation and litigation, and to answer questions raised by outside stakeholders who are involved in and affected by the business.
  • Because most audits involve outsiders, including customers, the audit process will help change the mind-set of managers who think they automatically know what their customers want without even asking.
  • Align overall business strategy with the company's needs and strengths. Running these audits helps to ensure that processes are in place to reinforce an existing strategy and to ensure that changes in the overall strategy reflect the organisation’s capabilities.

Who should conduct these audits?

Each audit contains full guidelines on selecting and briefing the audit team. As a general rule, the audit team should be made up of 3 or 4 people who will work together. If your organisation already has process improvement teams or problem solving teams in place, these may serve very well as audit teams.

The team will normally co-opt one further member from the department or process being audited - this person will bring additional detailed knowledge to the audit team.

None of the audits requires any particular financial skills or training and the team need not include anyone from the finance/audit department. However, financial audit skills include knowledge of interviewing and investigation techniques and these may be helpful if they are already available in your organisation. So, some companies use an existing audit department to conduct their management audits, while others create entirely new teams.

Each audit includes all the preliminary briefing materials needed by the audit team - there is no need for any external consultancy or training whatsoever (unless you feel it necessary to give the team some team-building training at the outset).

See the full list of audits