What is internal and external audit?

There are many people who confuse internal audit with internal control . The confusion probably comes:

  • the term “Internal” common to both names and
  • the notion of control attached to them.

I propose four fundamental differences🤷🏽‍♀️ to allow you to distinguish them easily.

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The purpose

Difference between audit and internal control — Purpose The objective of internal control is to “guarantee”:

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  • compliance with laws and regulations,
  • achievement of operational and reporting objectives.

Internal audit, for its part, is intended to provide management with:

  • assurance on the effectiveness of governance, risk management and control processes and
  • proposals for their improvement n.

Internal control is therefore one of the elements to be assessed by the internal audit.

Implementation modalities

Internal control is a set of mechanisms implemented continuously across all activitiesImplementation Mechanisms of the organization. Therefore, it is not a separate activity or a service within the organization.

Internal audit is a separate activity. the entire organization, whose interventions are done retrospectively and on an ad hoc basis .

For example, competitive vendors in the procurement process is part of the internal control mechanism. This procedure will therefore be implemented by the procurement department at each purchase. The audit of procurement will take place after the completion of the procurement (hence ex post facto). It will allow the internal auditor to ensure that the competitive process is working properly.


Internal control is NOT just a few people. Its implementation is the responsibility of ALL stakeholders of the organization Different actors . These stakeholders include the board, management, employees at all levels, third parties.

Internal audit is the business of a few employees (internal auditors) who are SOLELY responsible for its implementation.


Internal control can be implemented in accordance with different standards (COSO, COCO, CADBURY, etc.).

The practice of internal audit is governed by the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing , as enacted by the IIA.

In summary:

👉 Control internal = Mechanisms implemented on an ongoing basis by stakeholders across all activities, monitored and coordinated on a daily basis by an internal comptroller, to facilitate the achievement of the organization’s objectives .

👉 Internal Audit = Activity implemented by independent professionals (employees) whose purpose is to provide assurance and advice on the organization’s processes including the internal control in order to contribute to the maintenance and creation of value.

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