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Article by: Holly Hall — View more articles by Holly Hall

Posted on: December 29, 2017

7 Steps for a Highly Effective HR Audit

You’ve decided that it’s time… you need to take the important step of auditing functions within your HR department. So what now? It takes time, discipline, and the objective human resources to conduct a thorough audit and it starts with understanding your objectives. Do you want to do a full-audit of all HR functions or be more specific?  No matter what the extend of your audit is, reviewing the current state is a necessary first step. As an HR consultant with expertise in the field of HR audits, I have found there are seven defined steps to follow to achieve a successful audit.

  1. Determine scope

Scope – how much you want to evaluate and investigate your effectiveness and competence in your current operations and practices? This is an important first step to clarify and define what will be done under what parameters, current assumptions and what confines in which the audit will be conducted. If your organization has never conducted an HR audit, I highly encourage starting with a comprehensive HR audit. By understanding that your scope with be in-depth the first time, you will be able to plan accordingly and know that the outcome will be incredibly useful.

  1. Develop a plan

Prepare a project plan outlining the type of HR audit you want to conduct, identify the goals, milestones, and timeline.  Then align subject matter experts for each of the areas. This step includes creating an in-depth questionnaire to provide consistency in the data gathering process.

  1. Gather and analyze data

Collect all applicable documents and forms in use currently and document processes, procedures and systems.  This step can be time consuming depending on the scope established in step one and the availability of subject matter experts (SMEs). By using the questionnaire developed in the previous step you can assess current state in a robust manner.

  1. Utilize benchmarks and best practices

Your research needs to include industry benchmarks and best practices for your size of organization. It’s important to know metrics and other factors, including information such as HR to employee rations, that will help make recommendations in later steps.

  1. Prepare a report

Once you have gathered and evaluated the data, document your current state, gaps, and findings into a summary report.  In this report, create a prioritized list of the actions that need to be addressed, the actions to be taken, the anticipated timeline, costs, and the desired outcomes that will result.

  1. Present to Senior Leadership

Schedule time with senior leadership to review your findings, recommendations, and gaps. This is the time to discuss the strategic changes you’ve researched and identified, so be prepared to talk about how this will transform your organization. Focus on how your initiatives will help the company become more efficient, streamline/improve process, or augment administrative costs.

  1. Develop an Action Plan

Once you have direction and buy-in from senior leadership, it’s time to formulate an action plan to execute upon the proposed changes.  It’s a best practice to carefully consider the available resources and timeframe it will take and ensure the plan is realistic and achievable.


For more information about conducting an HR Audit, contact me to learn more about Willory’s audit services.