1st Edition

The Change Agent Transforming an Underperforming Internal Audit Department

By Hernan Murdock Copyright 2024
    312 Pages
    by CRC Press

    312 Pages
    by CRC Press

    John Taylor has been hired to transform the underperforming internal audit unit at InSports. The auditors are not reviewing what the audit committee and executive leadership consider essential for the organization’s success, their methodology is subpar, and their relationships with their clients are strained. The audit committee has been patient, but not anymore. Their mandate is clear: make clear improvements in one year or the function will be outsourced.

    This is the story of a visionary leader who needs a strategy to transform processes and deliver better results for stakeholders at all levels within the organization. The audit committee, all levels of management, and employees expect more from internal audit. Now, John must lead the group through 12 challenging months as they focus on what matters most when performing audit and advisory services. They must communicate results faster and better, leverage existing quality control and data analytics techniques, and, with every encounter, help the organization address strategic, operational, compliance, and financial risks.

    With similarities to "The Goal" and "The Phoenix Project" and leveraging Kotter’s 8-Step Process for Leading Change, follow John and the internal audit team from Boston to New York, San Francisco, London, and Buenos Aires, as they address almost insurmountable challenges in their transformation journey.

    About the Author




    Main Characters


    1. Conditions and Urgent Need for Change

    2. The Underperforming Internal Audit Department

    3. Building a Coalition: Outreach

    Summary: Winter


    4. Creating a Vision and Strategy

    5. Updating the Methodology

    6. Improved Reporting

    7. Training, Development, Coaching, and Mentoring

    8. Communicating the Vision: Outreach

    Summary: Spring


    9. Measurement and Methodology Changes and Performance Evaluations

    10. Providing Advisory Services

    11. Empowering Employees

    12. Remove Barriers to Action

    13. Determining Future Resource Needs

    14. Setback and Generating Short-Term Wins

    Summary: Summer


    15. Build on the Change and Consolidate Gains

    16. Quality Assurance and Improvement Program (QAIP)

    17. Institutionalize and Produce Even More Change

    Summary: Fall


    Preview – The Change Agent: Year 2

    Excerpt – The Change Agent: Year 2



    Dr. Hernan Murdock, CIA, CRMA is vice president – audit content for ACI Learning. He has held positions as director of training for an international audit and consulting firm, and various audit positions while leading and performing audit and consulting projects for clients in the manufacturing, transportation, high tech, education, insurance, and power generation industries.

    Dr. Murdock was a senior lecturer at Northeastern University where he taught management, leadership and ethics. He earned a DBA from Argosy University, Sarasota, Florida in 2007; a CSS from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1996; and an MBA and BSBA from Suffolk University, Boston, Massachusetts in 1992 and 1990, respectively. He also holds the following certifications: CRMA Certification in Risk Management Assurance (IIA), 2013; QAR Accreditation in Internal Quality Assessment/Validation (IIA), 2008; AchieveGlobal Leadership and Customer Service: Deliver and Develop Levels, 2007; IDC Certified Instructor (IIA), 2006; and CIA Certified Internal Auditor (IIA), 2001.

    He is the author of Operational Auditing: Principles and Techniques for a Changing World (CRC Press, 2022 and 2017), Auditor Essentials (CRC Press, 2019), 10 Key Techniques to Improve Team Productivity (The IIA Research Foundation, 2011), and Using Surveys in Internal Audits (The IIA Research Foundation, 2009). He has also written articles and book chapters on internal auditing, whistleblowing programs, international auditing, mentoring programs, fraud, deception, corporate social responsibility, and behavioral profiling.

    Dr. Murdock has conducted audits and consulting projects, delivered seminars and invited talks, and made numerous presentations at internal audit, academic, and government functions in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Africa.

    Dr. Murdock can be reached at [email protected].

    An internal audit textbook comes to life as a must-read tale! Dr. Murdock has masterfully taken essential elements of internal auditing and created an entertaining and compelling story in a book that is hard to put down. He brings us on the journey of how one audit shop, with pressure of dissatisfaction from the Board, adopted progressive techniques to transform their service and, in turn, the organization. The real-life challenges of convincing the team and the company’s leadership to incorporate value-added and leading-edge techniques will resonate with auditors of all experience levels. The solutions-focused-approach will encourage every auditor to rethink how they are operating and inspire them to become their own change agents.   

    Rob Clark, Jr., Chief Audit & Compliance Officer, Howard University 

    Most books seeking to educate leaders choose one of two recipes, either 1) the instructional "to-do list" of all the things you must do to excel and why, or 2) the case study approach of bombarding readers with examples of what other organizations and leaders have done to make positive change. Dr. Murdock has chosen to deviate from these recipes, and in doing so, creates an internal audit leadership instructional manual that is truly unique. Reading more like a fiction novel, with characters and personalities that develop over time, Dr. Murdock engrosses the reader in a story about how an internal audit leader turned around his department, and significantly increased value to the organization. Most readers will be able to immediately recognize the characters in the story as real-world personalities, with all of the advantages and challenges of those personality types. The drama builds as the main character has to assess his team, re-evaluate his department's value to the organization, and make essential changes to be a sought-after advisor. In reflecting back, I love that I learned some valuable new strategies and ways of thinking, without feeling like I was reading an instruction manual.

    Steve Biskie, Principal, National Risk Analytics Leader & SAP Champion, RSM US

    Using a dialogue-based, novel-style of writing, Hernan Murdock weaves a very compelling story of a new Chief Audit Executive needing to make transformational change across all aspects of a fictional company’s internal audit function. Many of the challenges are ones faced by all internal audit departments, and ones that will resonate with any internal auditor, audit committee member, or executive leader. Enjoyable and instructive must-read for anyone on the internal audit transformational journey.

    Hal Garyn, Managing Director, Audit Executive Advisory Services

    If you deal with an underperforming internal audit function, reading The Change Agent is a must. Underperforming internal audit functions are a universal challenge in both the private and public sectors. A real concern, considering the observation from internal audit thought-leaders, that internal auditing is still searching for an identity where they can play a more important role within the governance of their entities. Through his book, Dr. Murdock adds to the quest of transforming modern internal audit functions into an independent activity that can add value and improve operations. 


    He refreshingly deviates from the customary instructional framework, or lessons learnt style of text-book writing, to adopt the age-old approach of storytelling that resonates with all readers regardless of their education level or professional status. The analogy of the seasons to indicate the different phases of positive transformation in an internal audit function is particularly appealing. Storytelling has been a primary method of education for thousands of years, long before the advent of written language and formal schooling to transmit knowledge by simplifying complex problems, teaching values, and enhancing comprehension. 


    In this novel, Dr. Murdock stimulates critical thinking by presenting the story of a new CAE having to navigate professional and personal challenges in the face of diverse personalities and cultures. The Change Agent encourages readers to analyze situations, consider different perspectives, and brainstorm solutions that may well apply to their personal environments. This remarkable book empowers governance leaders to understand how to navigate the influences on sustainable positive organizational change and presents a valuable resource to add to the bookshelf.

    - Prof Lourens J Erasmus, Professor of Financial Governance, University of South Africa

    The Change Agent: Transforming an Underperforming Internal Audit Department is a must-read for novice and seasoned internal auditors, audit committee members, or business leaders seeking impactful change. The book is an engaging narrative of the impressive overhaul of an internal audit department, cleverly using the metaphor of changing seasons to portray the transformation. The journey begins with the audit committee’s 12-month ultimatum to turn around performance or risk being outsourced, to internal audit securing a 'seat at the table,' actively sought for input into future plans and strategies. Addressing professional and personal challenges, it provides an arsenal of best practices and tools to transform the function, delivering substantial value to the organization. This book challenges stereotypes about internal audit while exploring diverse cities, personalities, and cultures, making it an exciting read. It prepares you to grasp how holistic change, collaboration, adaptability, and resilience drive positive organizational transformations.

    Mary Ann Khalil, Managing Partner, Knowbility Consultancy

    What an amazing book. It fully embraces the challenges of the internal audit’s transformational journey. It is fun to read – from cover to cover. The concept of the seasons is fantastic. An internal audit department will go through all the seasons. Dr. Murdock is a great storyteller with great knowledge to share.

    Mark Edmead, IT Transformation Consultant and Trainer, MTE Advisors

    The Change Agent was an informative yet very entertaining novel. I was skeptical when I heard about a novel on auditing. How can that be entertaining? And then I read it. And wow, it was just as entertaining as a lot of the novels I read for fun! It can also be a valuable educational tool for those who teach auditing. In fact, I have already recommended it to two fellow instructors. I feel for the characters in this book and wonder what Miriam, Rachel, Tony, and the gang are up to now. To me that is the sign of a great story! The story and roles are so realistic I can assign pieces of my career and co-workers to many of the scenes and situations. Well done.

    Denise Cicchella, Executive Director and Trainer, Auspicium

    Hernan Murdock has written a clever allegory with believable characters who are dealing with realistic business challenges and situations. Using an easy-to-read writing style, Murdock deftly weaves in sage, time-tested advice and describes useful practices to transform the internal audit from a traditionally financial reporting and compliance-focused activity into a valued business partner. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to create sustainable organizational change.

    Ann Butera, Author, Founder and President, The Whole Person Project

    I have been fortunate to know Hernan personally and have had the pleasure of watching him develop into a professional training innovator. The concept of a novel about the trials and tribulations of an internal audit and compliance function is a unique approach. This certainly gives leaders in audit, compliance, and governance a new method and potential strategy to introduce continuing education to their teams.

    Joel F. Kramer, Managing Director (Retired), Internal Audit Division, MIS Training Institute (MISTI)

    The Change Agent by Hernan Murdock provides a clear and concise roadmap for leading change in an internal audit department, and is full of practical advice and tips. The book is a fictional story about a visionary leader who is hired to transform an underperforming internal audit department. The story is engaging and relatable, and it provides valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of leading change with real-world examples. I especially appreciated the book's focus on the importance of building a coalition, creating a vision, and communicating effectively. If you are responsible for transforming an underperforming internal audit department, then I highly recommend reading The Change Agent. It is a valuable resource that will help you succeed in your mission.

    Aliya Noor, Associate Partner, Ahmad Alagbari Chartered Accountants

    Throughout his career, Hernan Murdock has been a significant contributor to the education of thousands of internal auditors by emphasizing the importance of internal audit and its positive impact on organizations. In his latest work, The Change Agent, Hernan presents an engaging story with relatable characters that successfully illustrates the ups and downs faced by a new CAE and his contemporary internal audit learnings. By reading this book, not only can aspiring internal audit leaders benefit from the insights and experiences shared by the characters, but they can also learn about the change management practices that are implemented in the story. The Change Agent is an excellent resource for those who want to improve their understanding of the internal audit function and how it can enable positive change within an organization.

    Tom O’Reilly, Area Director, AuditBoard