IS Audit and Assurance Standard 1201 Engagement Planning 


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The specialised nature of information systems (IS) audit and assurance and the skills necessary to perform such engagements require standards that apply specifically to IS audit and assurance. The development and dissemination of the IS audit and assurance standards are a cornerstone of the ISACA professional contribution to the audit community.

IS audit and assurance standards define mandatory requirements for IS auditing and reporting and inform:

  • IS audit and assurance professionals of the minimum level of acceptable performance required to meet the professional responsibilities set out in the ISACA Code of Professional Ethics
  • Management and other interested parties of the profession’s expectations concerning the work of practitioners
  • Holders of the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) designation of requirements. Failure to comply with these standards may result in an investigation into the CISA holder’s conduct by the ISACA Board of Directors or appropriate committee and, ultimately, in disciplinary action.

IS audit and assurance professionals should include a statement in their work, where appropriate, that the engagement has been conducted in accordance with ISACA IS audit and assurance standards or other applicable professional standards.

The ITAF™ framework for the IS audit and assurance professional provides multiple levels of guidance:

  • Standards, divided into three categories:
    • General standards (1000 series)—Are the guiding principles under which the IS audit and assurance profession operates. They apply to the conduct of all assignments, and deal with the IS audit and assurance professional’s ethics, independence, objectivity and due care as well as knowledge, competency and skill. The standards statements (in bold) are mandatory.
    • Performance standards (1200 series)—Deal with the conduct of the assignment, such as planning and supervision, scoping, risk and materiality, resource mobilisation, supervision and assignment management, audit and assurance evidence, and the exercising of professional judgement and due care
    • Reporting standards (1400 series)—Address the types of reports, means of communication and the information communicated
  • Guidelines, supporting the standards and also divided into three categories:
    • General guidelines (2000 series)
    • Performance guidelines (2200 series)
    • Reporting guidelines (2400 series)
  • Tools and techniques, providing additional guidance for IS audit and assurance professionals, e.g., white papers, IS audit/assurance programmes, the COBIT 5 family of products

An online glossary of terms used in ITAF is provided at

Disclaimer:  ISACA has designed this guidance as the minimum level of acceptable performance required to meet the professional responsibilities set out in the ISACA Code of Professional Ethics. ISACA makes no claim that use of this product will assure a successful outcome. The publication should not be considered inclusive of any proper procedures and tests or exclusive of other procedures and tests that are reasonably directed to obtaining the same results. In determining the propriety of any specific procedure or test, controls professionals should apply their own professional judgement to the specific control circumstances presented by the particular systems or IS environment.

The ISACA Professional Standards and Career Management Committee (PSCMC) is committed to wide consultation in the preparation of standards and guidance. Prior to issuing any document, an exposure draft is issued internationally for general public comment. Comments may also be submitted to the attention of the director of professional standards development via email (, fax (+1.847. 253.1443) or postal mail (ISACA International Headquarters, 3701 Algonquin Road, Suite 1010, Rolling Meadows, IL 60008-3105, USA).

ISACA 2012-2013 Professional Standards and Career Management Committee

Steven E. Sizemore, CISA, CIA, CGAP, Chairperson
Christopher Nigel Cooper, CISM, CITP, FBCS, M.Inst.ISP
Ronald E. Franke, CISA, CRISC, CFE, CIA, CICA
Murari Kalyanaramani, CISA, CISM, CRISC, CISSP, CBCP
Alisdair McKenzie, CISA, CISSP, ITCP
Katsumi Sakagawa, CISA, CRISC, PMP
Ian Sanderson, CISA, CRISC, FCA
Timothy Smith, CISA, CISSP, CPA
Rodolfo Szuster, CISA, CA, CBA, CIA
Texas Health and Human Services Commission, USA
HP Enterprises Security Services, UK
Myers and Stauffer LC, USA
British American Tobacco IT Services, Malaysia
IS Assurance Services, New Zealand
JIEC Co. Ltd., Japan
NATO, Belgium
LPL Financial, USA
Tarshop S.A., Argentina


IS audit and assurance professionals shall plan each IS audit and assurance engagement to address:

  • Objective(s), scope, timeline and deliverables
  • Compliance with applicable laws and professional auditing standards
  • Use of a risk-based approach, where appropriate
  • Engagement-specific issues
  • Documentation and reporting requirements

IS audit and assurance professionals shall develop and document an IS audit or assurance engagement project plan, describing the:

  • Engagement nature, objectives, timeline and resource requirements
  • Timing and extent of audit procedures to complete the engagement

Key Aspects

IS audit and assurance professionals should:

  • Obtain an understanding of the activity being audited. The extent of the knowledge required should be determined by the nature of the enterprise, its environment, the areas of risk and the objectives of the engagement.
  • Consider subject matter guidance or direction, as afforded through legislation, regulations, rules, directives and guidelines issued by government or industry.
  • Perform a risk assessment to provide reasonable assurance that all material items will be adequately covered during the engagement. Audit strategies, materiality levels and resource requirements can then be developed.
  • Develop the engagement project plan using appropriate project management methodologies to ensure that activities remain on track and within budget.
  • Include in the plan assignment-specific issues, such as:
    • Availability of resources with appropriate knowledge, skills and experience
    • Identification of tools needed for gathering evidence, performing tests and preparing/summarising information for reporting
    • Assessment criteria to be used
    • Reporting requirements and distribution
  • Document the IS audit or assurance engagement’s project plan to clearly indicate the:
    • Objective(s), scope and timing
    • Resources
    • Roles and responsibilities
    • Areas of risk identified and their impact on the engagement plan
    • Tools and techniques to be employed
    • Fact-finding interviews to be conducted
    • Relevant information to be obtained
    • Procedures to verify or validate the information obtained and its use as evidence
    • Assumptions regarding the approach, methodology, procedures, and anticipated results and conclusions
  • Schedule the engagement with regard to the timing, availability, and other commitments and requirements of management and the auditee, to the extent possible.
  • Adjust the project plan during the course of the IS audit or assurance engagement to address issues that arise during the engagement, such as new risk, incorrect assumptions or findings from the procedures already performed.
  • For internal engagements:
    • Communicate the audit charter to the auditee; where necessary, use an engagement letter or equivalent to further clarify or confirm involvement in specific engagements
    • Communicate the plan to the auditee so that the auditee is fully informed and can provide appropriate access to individuals, documents and other resources, when required
  • For external engagements:
    • Prepare a separate engagement letter for each external IS audit and assurance engagement
    • Prepare a project plan for each external IS audit and assurance engagement. The plan should, at a minimum, document the objective(s) and scope of the engagement.

Linkage to Guidelines

Type Title
Guideline 2201 Engagement Planning

Operative Date

This ISACA standard is effective for all IS audit and assurance engagements beginning 1 November 2013.