Uncovering the unseen: identifying new risks through internal scrutiny
Standard internal scrutiny practices, including compliance checks against legislation and internal procedures, are essential for any multi-academy trust. They offer a critical check and balance, helping to ensure the trust's legal and operational health. However, what happens when these traditional approaches overlook hidden risks, those which lie hidden beneath the surface of standard checklists? This blog explores how an effective internal scrutiny provider should be revealing more than just compliance with rules and procedures.
Traditional internal scrutiny, whilst important, primarily focuses on 'hard metrics' such as financial reporting, statutory compliance and adherence to internal procedures. However, it may not be equipped to highlight 'softer' issues, such as cultural risks and strategic misalignments that can profoundly impact a trust.
Some examples of 'softer' issues include:
A toxic culture can erode an organisation's integrity, leading to lower staff morale, high turnover rates, and decreased productivity.
Traditional scrutiny might not show up inconsistencies between your trust's strategic goals and its operational practices. A capable provider should highlight these with you.
Unhealthy relationships with stakeholders - from staff and parents to local authorities - can pose significant risk to a trust. A comprehensive scrutiny provider will flag any issues or potential issues and suggest ways to help improve relationships.
How well a trust or school handles change can often be overlooked, but change management is an important factor in reducing organisational risk.
A high-level internal scrutiny provider will not only help your trust comply with laws and procedures but also unearth and address these hidden risks. Here's how:
An effective provider uses a holistic approach to scrutinise your trust. They consider all aspects, from financials and legal compliance to culture and stakeholder relationships.
Every trust is unique. A quality provider tailors their scrutiny process to your trust's specific needs, identifying areas of potential risk that might not be apparent in a 'one-size-fits-all' audit.
Identifying hidden risks is just half the battle. A great provider will also offer actionable recommendations to mitigate these risks, providing your trust with a roadmap towards improvement.
High quality providers understand that internal scrutiny is not a one-off task, but a continuous process. They'll help you establish mechanisms to regularly monitor, evaluate, and adjust your operations to address evolving risks.
In conclusion, traditional internal scrutiny practices serve a vital purpose, but in today's complex and rapidly evolving environment, they may not be enough. Trust's need to partner with scrutiny providers capable of going beyond the checklists and uncovering the unseen risks. Remember, great scrutiny is not just about compliance; it's about facilitating excellence and continuous improvement in every aspect.
Find out about Keystone Knowledge's holistic approach to providing internal scrutiny services here.
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