Difference Between Audit Plan and Audit Program (With Table)

Although Auditors can be classified as either an Internal or External Auditor, they both require the same information. While doing an audit, the auditor must possess evidence in support of his/her opinion. Acquiring a handful of evidence is a start to a successful audit. The Auditor usually drafts a sketch of work, together with the techniques to be used.

They assess materials for support and should be ready with all kinds of fraud risks. They also have the right to receive and verify information attained from records, practices, and documentation to develop an overall audit plan and program.

Audit Plan vs Audit Program

The main difference between the Audit Plan and Audit Program is that while conducting audit the auditor follows the guidelines which are called an audit plan, on the other hand, audit program means where the audit staff follows the steps listed in audit program to collect audit evidence.

The audit plan is the first and basic step of auditing whereas the audit program is the second step in audit for the examination of evidence.

An audit plan and program may have different definitions and roles; however, both are an accessory to a successful audit. An Audit refers to a detailed, systematic, and independent examination of a process to ensure compliance.

Comparison Table Between Audit Plan and Audit Program

Parameter of Comparison

Audit Planning

Audit Program


Audit planning is more on a structural plan, laying out all the tools, strategies or techniques needed for a specific audit.

The audit program is where all the work began. It will show what steps, procedures, and evidence are needed to obtain accurate information in a step by step manner.

Rank in the procedure




1 Auditor

One or more Auditor or another accounting expert/entity

What is the Audit Plan?

An Audit plan is a guideline set when conducting an Audit. It is a significant foundation that should not be overlooked.

From the word itself, it merely defines as a plan to be carried out in an organization that comprises strategy and techniques that will be followed in carrying out an Audit. This part of an Audit is crucial.

It determines all the factors needed, making sure that all the critical areas were covered and potential problems identified and addressed.

The work will be completed seamlessly in the utmost honesty and precision.

In laying
out a plan, an Auditor must consider these foundations below:

  1. Client Introduction – It’s an essential procedure in finding out the client’s information, such as the nature of the business, its engagement to the community, and meeting with the employees.
  2. Reviewing Audit documentation – the most critical part of conducting your preparations is analyzing the previous audits either from a predecessor auditor or from an accounting firm. It is only applicable if the client provides such information (which in most cases they do).
  3. Recent developments – an auditor should be well informed of the latest progress, such as new ventures or investments, products, or even merging as this might create a considerable discrepancy from the previous year.
  4. Interim Financial statements – It is mandatory to analyze misstated accounts and those that need to be monitored. 
  5. Knowing Non- audit personnel – identifying non-audit professionals or services.
  6. Staff – Engagement, and discussion are needed for a smooth transaction. Still, the procedures to be discussed are only limited to what is necessary on a designated level.
  7. Timing/ Schedule – Organization of client management and staff. Checking documents that need to be corrected or submitted.
  8. Assistance from other accounting entities – This needs to be determined whether or not a specialist needs to be in a particular procedure, may it be an IT or a tax practitioner.
  9. Accounting Standard Pronouncements – is critical as it refers to the hierarchy of communications from the Finance department to the Standard Boards and into all levels. 
  10. Date with the client – The client needs to be informed when an audit will start. He should also be well prepared for things such as the schedule when they could not access bank safes or deposit boxes.  It is to ensure the utmost integrity during the procedure.

What is Audit Program?

An audit program acts as a blueprint of the audit plan. It specifies how the audit will go, who is going to complete it, and what steps needed in conducting it.

It’s like what goes on with the plan after formulated, which comprises various steps developed that an Auditor needs to follow.

It has a range of procedures, document verification and acquiring pieces of evidence to help the auditor with the information. It has a range of procedures, document verification, and acquiring evidence to help the auditor with the information.

The auditor plans to perform the audit in an efficient and timely manner, so it is imperative to follow the step by step planning procedures. Although it implies that the Auditor must follow the plan, the Audit program should also be flexible enough for the changes that need revision while making sure that all important areas were covered.

Main Differences Between Audit Plan and Audit Program

  1. An Audit plan is a laid out design prepared by an Auditor in conducting an Audit.  The Audit Program is the execution of the project itself, which has an extensive procedure on how it should be exhausted.
  2. The Audit Plan always comes first, followed by the Audit Program.
  3. Both might be authored by the same Auditor; however, in the execution of the Audit Program, another accounting entity or expert might be required depending on the nature of Audit.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Audit Plan and Audit Program

What are the types of audit Programmes?

An audit program (also called an audit plan) tells an auditor that what procedure is required to follow during an audit to make sure that the organization is adhering to the rules and regulations as instructed.

Different types of audit program are:

  1. Standardized audit program – This program helps the industries to create their own set of rules and regulations to adhere to and the process of doing the internal audits.
  2. Tailored audit program – These programs are created to focus on the specific area during an audit. In this program, not the entire compliance framework but only specific areas like legal documents, procedures of the business, etc are given importance.
  3. Compliance audit – This program provides a guideline on how the follow the compliance framework.

What is the audit checklist?

An audit checklist is a list of questions that are given by the quality management system to be completed during an audit. It also includes tasks that are to be fulfilled to complete an audit successfully.

What is the audit planning process?

An audit planning process is a process of planning an audit for a company. This process helps to break down the audit into several steps so it would be easier and convenient for the auditor to conduct an audit with the plan.

What do you mean by cost audit?

Cost auditing can be defined as the audit to verify the cost accounts of a company to make sure that it is adhering to the plan of cost accounting set by the management. Usually cost accounting records are verified such as cost reports, statements, account and techniques.

After the verification, the records are examined to make sure that they are following the plans and procedures.

Cost audit is important because it helps to figure out any flaws or errors in the cost account which could result in a loss. It also helps find out any fraudulent activities in the cost account.

Can a CA do a cost audit?

A CA can do a cost audit if it is only for the purpose of getting information or analyzing the compliance framework. But as per law, a cost accountant is the only eligible person to conduct a cost audit. A CA can also perform a cost audit in two conditions:

  1. He or she is cost accountant in practice
  2. He or she is an employee of a cost accountant

In both conditions, he or she must not be a CA in practice.


We all know that the primary purpose of an Audit is to identify the financial position of a particular company or entity. Thus, an Auditor or an accounting firm must act independently to avoid any influences from a relationship inside the client’s circle.

Both the Audit Plan and Audit Program have their respective roles to play in a fraud prevention campaign.

It strengthens the processes of an organization and gives assurance that their protocols are followed. It also prevents fraud and other accounting irregularities to manifest. It stresses the importance of why all documents, records, and other materials or evidence is cleared of any doubts or suspicions. And should only adhere to recording truthful and accurate information.


  1. https://pcaobus.org/Standards/Auditing/Pages/AS2101.aspx
  2. https://meridian.allenpress.com/ajpt/article-abstract/18/1/55/51390/Are-Audit-Program-Plans-Risk-Adjusted?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  3. https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-364197525/embracing-the-automated-audit-how-the-audit-data
  4. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1506/L20L-7FUM-FPCB-7BE2