Usually I write a column about how to audit some aspect of a whole enterprise—say, how the company manages risk, or how executives invest their IT dollars. That’s important. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the nuts and bolts: Companies are run by specific departments doing specific jobs, and they need auditing too. So we’re going to get back to our internal auditing roots this month, starting with the finance department.

The finance function is critical because it helps drive most organizations to higher levels of performance. A well-run finance department enables sound financial management, strategic planning, organizational performance reporting, ...