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Audit Plan vs. Audit Program — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on December 3, 2023
Audit Plan outlines the audit's objectives and scope, while Audit Program details the specific procedures and steps to achieve these objectives.
Audit Plan vs. Audit Program — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Audit Plan and Audit Program


Key Differences

An audit plan is a comprehensive strategy outlining the objectives, scope, and direction of an audit. It's a blueprint for the entire audit process. On the other hand, an audit program is a detailed set of instructions and steps that auditors follow to carry out the audit plan. The program translates the plan into actionable tasks.
While the audit plan is generally broader and focuses on the what and why of the audit, the audit program delves into the how. The audit plan sets the stage, determining the areas to be audited and the goals to be achieved. The audit program, conversely, consists of specific tests, verifications, and procedures designed to meet the goals set out in the audit plan.
The audit plan is typically developed at a higher strategic level, often involving senior management and auditors to ensure it aligns with organizational objectives. In contrast, the audit program is more technical and operational, crafted by auditors to address the specifics of executing the plan.
A significant difference lies in their level of detail. The audit plan is more about general guidance and overall approach, while the audit program gets into the nitty-gritty, specifying each step, technique, and even the allocation of resources and time.
Both the audit plan and program are crucial for an effective audit. The plan provides the roadmap, ensuring that the audit aligns with organizational objectives and regulatory requirements. The program, meanwhile, acts as the vehicle, detailing the route and mechanisms to reach the destination set by the audit plan.

Comparison Chart


Broad, outlining objectives and scope
Detailed, outlining specific procedures

Level of Detail

General and strategic
Specific and operational


What and why of the audit
How of the audit


By senior management and auditors
Primarily by auditors


Provides a roadmap
Acts as a vehicle for execution

Compare with Definitions

Audit Plan

A framework for audit execution.
The audit plan was designed to identify areas of potential fraud.

Audit Program

A tactical plan with specific audit steps.
The audit program outlined a detailed process for data analysis.

Audit Plan

A high-level guide for auditing activities.
The audit plan addressed the company’s internal controls and financial reporting.

Audit Program

A detailed procedure for carrying out an audit.
The audit program included steps for inventory verification.

Audit Plan

A preparatory layout for an audit's goals and direction.
The audit plan emphasized the evaluation of the company's cybersecurity measures.

Audit Program

A comprehensive list of audit tasks and procedures.
The audit program included interviewing key personnel for insight.

Audit Plan

A strategic blueprint for conducting an audit.
The company's audit plan focused on financial compliance and risk assessment.

Audit Program

A set of instructions for audit execution.
The audit program specified the documents to review for compliance.

Audit Plan

A document outlining audit objectives and scope.
The auditor created an audit plan to ensure all regulatory requirements were met.

Audit Program

A roadmap for practical audit implementation.
The audit program was meticulously designed to assess financial accuracy.

Common Curiosities

What does an audit program include?

An audit program includes detailed procedures, steps, and tasks for carrying out the audit plan.

What is an audit plan?

An audit plan is a strategic document outlining the objectives, scope, and direction of an audit.

Who typically develops the audit plan?

The audit plan is usually developed by senior management and auditors.

Can an audit be effective without an audit plan?

Without an audit plan, it's challenging to have a focused and effective audit.

What is the main focus of an audit plan?

The main focus of an audit plan is on what and why of the audit – its objectives and scope.

Are audit plans and programs static documents?

No, they can be revised and updated based on changing needs and findings.

How are audit plans and programs related?

Audit plans provide the strategic framework, while audit programs detail the specific actions to implement the plan.

Do audit programs vary from one audit to another?

Yes, audit programs are tailored to the specific objectives and scope outlined in the audit plan.

Is the audit program more detailed than the audit plan?

Yes, the audit program is more detailed, outlining specific steps and procedures.

Does the audit plan address regulatory requirements?

Yes, an audit plan typically includes considerations for compliance with regulatory requirements.

Is it necessary to follow the audit program strictly?

While it’s a guide, auditors may need flexibility to adapt based on findings.

Can the audit program change during an audit?

Yes, if necessary, the audit program can be adjusted during the audit process.

Are audit programs only developed by auditors?

Primarily, yes, but they can involve input from other relevant personnel.

How does an audit plan help in risk management?

An audit plan helps identify and assess areas of potential risk in an organization.

How often should an audit plan be reviewed?

Regularly, to ensure it remains aligned with organizational goals and changes.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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