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

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 4, 2023
An audit plan outlines the strategy and timeline for an audit, whereas an audit program details the specific procedures and steps to be followed.

Key Differences

An audit plan is a comprehensive strategy that defines the scope, objectives, and timing of an audit. It acts as a roadmap for the audit process. On the other hand, an audit program is a specific set of instructions and procedures that the audit team follows to execute the audit. It is more detailed and operational in nature.
The audit plan is typically developed first, setting the stage for the audit. It includes assessing risks, determining the resources needed, and establishing the audit's goals. The audit program, however, translates these plans into actionable tasks, detailing how each aspect of the audit will be carried out, including the methods and techniques to be used.
In the audit plan, the focus is on strategic planning, considering factors like the business environment and regulatory requirements. The audit program, however, is more concerned with practical implementation, including the specific tests and evaluations to be conducted.
The audit plan is often broader and more flexible, allowing for adjustments based on changing circumstances or findings during the audit. The audit program, in contrast, is more rigid and specific, outlining the exact steps and procedures to be followed.
An audit plan is a high-level document that guides the overall audit process, often created by senior auditors or management. The audit program, however, is a more technical document, used by the audit team on a day-to-day basis to ensure all necessary procedures are followed and objectives met.

Comparison Chart


Outlines strategy and timeline for the audit.
Details specific procedures and steps for conducting audit.


Strategic planning, risk assessment, resource allocation.
Specific tasks, methods, and techniques for audit.


Broader and more adaptable to changes.
More rigid and specific in nature.

Development Stage

Developed first, setting the stage for the audit.
Created based on the audit plan, for execution purposes.


Used by senior auditors or management for guidance.
Used by audit teams for day-to-day execution of tasks.

Audit Plan and Audit Program Definitions

Audit Plan

An audit plan identifies the resources and timeline for an audit.
The audit plan allocated two months for the completion of the fieldwork.

Audit Program

An audit program is a step-by-step guide for auditors to follow.
To ensure consistency, each team member followed the same audit program.

Audit Plan

An audit plan is a preparatory guideline for audit activities.
Before starting the audit, the team reviewed the audit plan to understand the priorities.

Audit Program

An audit program is a detailed procedure list for conducting an audit.
The audit program included steps for testing the accuracy of financial transactions.

Audit Plan

An audit plan sets the objectives and scope of an audit.
The audit plan specified the focus on internal controls and financial reporting.

Audit Program

An audit program details the techniques and tools for audit execution.
The audit program included a section on data analytics tools for examining sales records.

Audit Plan

An audit plan outlines the risk assessment and approach for an audit.
The audit plan included a detailed risk assessment of the company's overseas operations.

Audit Program

An audit program outlines the specific tasks and tests in an audit.
The audit program required verification of all major asset purchases in the last year.

Audit Plan

An audit plan is a strategic blueprint for conducting an audit.
The company's audit plan outlined the key areas to be assessed over the next quarter.

Audit Program

An audit program is a tactical plan for implementing the audit strategy.
The audit program translated the broader audit strategy into actionable steps.


What is an audit plan?

An audit plan is a strategic document outlining the scope, objectives, and timeline for an audit.

How is an audit plan different from an audit program?

An audit plan focuses on strategy and planning, whereas an audit program details the specific tasks and procedures for execution.

Who typically creates the audit plan?

The audit plan is typically created by senior auditors or audit management.

Is the audit program more detailed than the audit plan?

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

How often should an audit plan be reviewed?

An audit plan should be reviewed periodically, especially in response to significant changes in the audit environment or scope.

What does an audit program consist of?

An audit program consists of detailed procedures and steps for carrying out an audit.

Can an audit plan be modified during the audit?

Yes, an audit plan is adaptable and can be modified based on audit findings or changes in circumstances.

Do audit programs follow a standard format?

Audit programs may follow a standard format but are customized based on the specific audit objectives and scope.

Are audit plans required for all types of audits?

While not mandatory for all audits, audit plans are highly recommended for effective and efficient audit management.

Does the audit plan include budget considerations?

Yes, an audit plan often includes budget considerations for resources and time allocation.

Is an audit program legally binding?

While not legally binding, an audit program is a professional commitment to adhere to outlined procedures and standards.

Is client input considered in developing an audit plan?

Yes, client input is often considered in developing an audit plan to ensure it aligns with client expectations and regulatory requirements.

What happens if an audit plan is not followed?

Not following an audit plan can lead to inefficiencies, overlooked areas, and potential non-compliance with audit standards.

What is the role of technology in an audit program?

Technology plays a significant role in modern audit programs, providing tools for data analysis, documentation, and process automation.

What role does risk assessment play in an audit plan?

Risk assessment is a crucial part of an audit plan, helping to identify and prioritize areas of higher risk.

Can an audit program be used for multiple audits?

An audit program can be reused or adapted for similar audits but should be customized for each specific audit context.

Can an audit plan be the same for different companies?

Audit plans are generally tailored to the specific context and needs of each company, though they may share common elements.

Who uses the audit program during an audit?

The audit program is primarily used by the audit team members conducting the audit.

How detailed should an audit program be?

An audit program should be sufficiently detailed to provide clear guidance on procedures and tasks, ensuring thorough coverage of the audit scope.

How is auditor expertise reflected in the audit plan?

Auditor expertise influences the audit plan in terms of scope definition, risk assessment, and resource allocation.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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