Leonardo da Vinci Pilot Project 2005
Agreement number: L-B-013/2005
For Development of
"Certified European Internal Financial Control Assessor"
Training and Certification Programme

This project is carried out with the financial support of the Commission of the European Communities under the Leonardo da Vinci Programme

Partnership

Hungary - BBS - Budapest Business School

Éva Sándorné Dr. Kriszt

Buzogány utca 11-13. 1149 Budapest
+36 1 469 6696
sankrisz@t-online.hu


Hungary - MEMOLUX Ltd.

János Ivanyos

Thököly út 137. 1146 Budapest
+36 1 460 7403
ivanyos@memolux.hu


Belgium - BRUXINFO s.p.r.l.

György Fóris

13. avenue Georges Lecointe, 1180 Brussels
+32 0 475646533
gyforis@bruxinfo.hu


Spain - Fundación General de la Universidad de Valladolid

Rocío Blanco

Pza. de Santa Cruz no 5. 47002 Valladolid
+34 983 184619
rociob@funge.uva.es


Ireland - ISCN Ltd.

Dr. Richard Messnarz

Florence House, 1 Florence Villas, Bray, Co Wicklow
+353 1 205 0020
mess@iscn.com


Romania - Babes Bolyai University

Adriana Tiron Tudor

Theodor Mihali F. N. Cluj-Napoca
+40 744779474
ttadriana@yahoo.com

Short summary of the project

Target:
The target group is the wider public and private sector project and programme managers who want to manage and improve skills based on international practices focusing on European internal audit specialities (e.g. specific regulatory requirements for using EC funds).

What:
The project aims to develop a European skill card of a Certified European Internal Financial Control Assessor. This skill card will be made available through an up-to-date solution (MM 1032 multimedia project CREDIT, 1998 - 2001), which offers an online system for browsing the skills card, performing self-assessment online, collecting evidences, and receive a formal assessment of the evidences online. A skills gaps profile will show which course modules the student still would have to attend to manage the accreditation as a Certified European Internal Financial Control Assessor. The project will develop the courses, the skills card, and configure the accreditation system for online services based on the combination of international standards and European best practices both in public and private sector.

Click here to login to the online learning portal.

Why / Need:
OECD experts analysed across all European states that there is lack of experienced practitioners having proper competence of applying the international internal audit standards for European specific requirements in European funding structures. Present formal and sectoral education especially in the new member states and candidate countries have been concentrating on more about general accounting and financial audit policies or on very high level certification requirements of internal audit, which are less applicable for the real-life obligatory practitioners like project or programme managers using public money. This project will give encouragement and support to the provision of training activities for internal audit, the fast-tracking of key staff in their efforts to achieve professional qualifications and effective networking with colleagues in the EU member states and accession countries. Typical European need is to address the practical experiments of implementing the current international (INTOSAI, IIA) standards both in public and private sector.

Results:
1. A guideline co-written by a group of methodology experts and internal audit practitioners (managers with internal audit experience of both private and public sector) outlining the methodology and case studies from practice. Each chapter will include guidance, examples from practices, and tips how to do it yourself. The chapters will be aligned with the course modules offered.
2. Development of course modules focussing towards: corporate governance; the nature of systems auditing; the impact of risk on audit planning and audit assignments; control evaluation and assessment; elements of a systems audit and audit procedures; business communications; fraud and irregularities; and statistical methods (including EU specific public and private practices).
3. Structuring the required skills of a Certified European Internal Financial Control Assessor in form of a European skill card. This can later be fed into different European accreditation systems because we will keep skill card design standards (knowledge system from the previous CREDIT project).
4. An online-self assessment and accreditation system so that managers can identify skills gaps required to become a skilled European Internal Financial Control Assessor (system from the previous CREDIT project).
5. Translation of the course modules into German, Spanish, Hungarian and Romanian, beside English.
6. Collaboration with NCPs to achieve recognition of this certificate. Contribution to EU-specific development of global internal audit certificates.

Partnership:
The core learning idea supported by the European project management and audit practitioners, the leading Universities and the technology providers will have a wide impact across the EU and even into other pre-accession countries. Through the international partnership the results will be available in English, German, Spanish, Romanian and Hungarian by the end of this project.

Click here to download the summary of IFCA principles (pdf)

The COSO based process assessment principles have been used for development of the Skill Card and the related training materials of the "Certified European Internal Financial Control Assessor" programme including adaptation of the Principles, Attributes and Approaches of the COSO Small Business Guidance as agreed with the COSO Board for Spanish, German, Romanian and Hungarian translations.

By utilizing the final results of this pilot project, Europe-wide training providers will offer the certification and training programme accredited by the European Certificates Association http://www.eu-certificates.org from September 2007. Working groups of SAI, IIA, ISACA and ISO 15504 communities are invited for future cooperation.

Results in details:

1.    European Skill Card. An adapted skill card for European Internal Financial Control Assessor.
By using European standards for skills descriptions, the goal is to reach a common structure of skills, learning objectives and required evidences of competencies which can be re-used across all European regions. Following the supervisory, external and internal audit principles on internal control systems, the Internal Financial Control Assessor Skill Card follows the component structure of the Internal Control over Financial Reporting - Guidance for Small Public Companies issued by the COSO Committee.

Click here to download the free executive summary of the COSO guidance (pdf)
Click here to download Working Tools of the COSO guidance (pdf)
Click here for the Skill Card introduction (pdf)
Click here for the COSO-based Reference Model introduction (pdf)


There will be a set of results based on the skill card definition, which will be used across Europe. Firstly there will be a certificate for a "European Internal Financial Control Assessor" offered nationally for different level EU programme institutions, who support and supervise EU programmes and help contractors, especially SMEs and public sector organisations to prepare for audits. It is also planned to disseminate these results to the European internal audit institutes. These European organisations will be invited to the trainings of trainers and the training licenses will be offered to them promoting the courses and certificate in wider European regions. Secondly there will the book promoted by a publisher. Then there will be courses, which we offer in collaboration with training centres and professional organisations. Thirdly there will be the online skills card browsing, self-assessment, benchmarking and formal assessment service including advice for internal audit managers.



2.    Training Courses Materials and Course Certificate.
An elaborated training programme with exercises for a European Internal Financial Control Assessor. A set of courses with fresh examples from practice and a test for attendees for each skills unit described in the EU Skill Card. Each skills unit contains learning elements. If attendees successfully pass the test they will receive a course certificate "European Internal Financial Control Assessor". The course will include training modules based on the agreed learning elements from the skills card. The materials will be prepared (a) for a vocational course and (b) for integration into the open university system:
(a) Vocation Course

(b) Open University System Courses for Training the Trainers. Courses and certificates for 300 managers during project lifetime. The course materials will again be translated into German, Spanish and Hungarian, beside English.

Click here for the Content of Guideline Principles (pdf)
Click here for the Content of Guideline Applications (pdf)
Click here for sample multiple choice questions (pdf)

3.    Skills Portal and LMS (Learning management System).
An online self-assessment and accreditation system for managers to identify skills gaps required to become a skilled internal audit manager (system stems from the previous CREDIT project). Self-assessment will be based on online multiple-choice tests and the results will automatically produce a skills gaps profile for the person logged in. Formal assessment will require a pool of assessors connected to the students in order to give online advice, formally assess uploaded or referenced evidences. The logged in audit manager will see the assessor comments and print the skills gaps profiles (corrected by assessors).
The system will be interfaced with the LMS Moodle system on which courses are automatically recommended and can be attended online. This leads to an open university to attend courses and exercises online.
Students will run through the following steps in general (see Figure 1 in section C.1. point 10.)

Step 1 - Browse a Skills Set : You select a set of skills or competencies, which are required by your profession or job using international, national or your company standards. You browse different skills cards and select a job role you would like to achieve.

Step 2 - Register Interest with a Service Unit: This can be a service unit inside your own company (e.g. a personnel development department) or a skills card and assessment provider outside your company, which offers skills assessment services.

Step 3 - Receive an Account for Self Assessment and Evidence Collection: The service unit will provide you with an account and working space in which you can go through the steps of online self assessment and the collection of evidences to prove that you are capable of certain performance criteria.

Step 4 - Perform Self Assessment: You log into the system, browse through the skills required and self assess performance criteria, whole elements or whole units with a standard evaluation scale of non-applicable, not adequate, partially adequate, largely adequate, and fully adequate. A skills gaps profile can be generated and printed illustrating in which areas your self- assessment shows improvement potentials.

Step 5 - Collect Evidences: Before you want to enter any formal assessment you need to prove your skills by evidences. Evidences can be any electronic files (sample documents, sample graphics, results of some analysis, etc.) or any references with details (e.g. a certificate received from a certain institution). Evidences you can then link to specific performance criteria or whole elements of skills units.

Testing of Skills (Addition to Step 5) - In traditional learning schemes people have always needed to go to a learning institution (university, accreditation body, professional body, etc.) to take exams and they received a certificate if they pass. This traditional approach however is insufficient when it comes to measuring experience and (soft) skills learned on the job and fails to give recognition to skills gathered on the job. The APL (Accreditation of Prior Learning) approach, by contrast, collects so called evidences. Evidences can be certificates obtained in the traditional way, but also references from previous employers, materials from previous projects in which the person took ownership of results (e.g. a test plan) to prove their capability, as well as any kind of proof of competence gathered on the job. The assessors will then evaluate the evidences provided and not only rely on certificates and exams.

Step 6 - Receive Formal Assessment: Formal assessors are assigned by the service unit to the skills assessment. Once formal assessors log into the system they automatically see all assigned assessments. They select the corresponding one and can see the uploaded evidences. They then formally assess the evidences and assess the formal fulfilment of performance criteria, whole elements or whole units with a standard evaluation scale of non-applicable, not adequate, partially adequate, largely adequate, and fully adequate. In case of missing competencies they enter improvement recommendations, a well as learning options.

Step 7 - Receive Advise on Learning / Improvement Options: After the formal assessment the participants log into the system and can see the formal assessment results from the assessors, can print skills gaps profiles based on the assessor results, and can receive and print the improvement recommendations and learning options. If required, the generation of learning options can also be automated through the system (independent from assessor advises).

Step 8 - Attend Courses Online and Perform Exercises: After the receipt of a learning plan and the sign up for courses, the students/learners attend courses online and perform exercises. Successful exercises are then used as evidences for the next assessment step (to prove that skills gaps have been solved).

Step 9 - Tutoring: At defined online schedules professional tutors are available to help, guide, and correct exercises. After students manage step 9 successfully they can re-start with step 4.

Click here for detailed guide (pdf)
Click here for Skill & Exam Portal

4.    Transfer of Skills/Knowledge.
The concepts of skills card supported by a platform as well as the learning organisation concepts are transferable across different sectors. Some details are different, but the factors are the same. So with a limited effort this could be adjusted as a service for different sectors, such as local and central government, NGOs, private enterprises, etc. - with different variants of the same skills set.

5.    Translation of training materials.
Through the international partnership the results will be available in English, German, Spanish, Romanian and Hungarian by the end of the project.

6.    Dissemination materials
Through the international partnership the results will be disseminated in major European Conference series like European Conferences of Internal Auditors and EuroSPI. Presentation and tutorial materials will be available in all languages mentioned above.

Click here to see the project presentation



This project is carried out with the financial support of the Commission of the European Communities under the Leonardo da Vinci Programme