Thirty-eight percent of organizations are turning to outside services to supplement the efforts of their internal audit function, according to a new survey of chief audit executives.

A new report from the Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation examines third-party activities in a number of areas, including usage by industry, region, organization size and budget, and anticipated third-party usage in the coming year.

The report found the financial sector to be the biggest user of outside help, with 45 percent of organizations using third parties for internal audit activities. That was followed by publicly traded companies, excluding the financial sector, at 43 percent.

The regional breakdown shows North America leads in the percentage of organizations that use third-party services (56 percent), while South Asia leads in the average percentage of activity performed by third parties (39 percent).

The report also recommends some best practices when using third-party services, including clearly identifying objectives, scope of services, level of expertise needed, performance metrics, and responsibilities for remediation and follow up. Finally, the report looks at how CAEs can take advantage of knowledge and expertise offered by third-party providers.

“This report offers an important snapshot on the profession’s use of third-party services,” said IIA president and CEO Richard F. Chambers in a statement. “As demands on internal audit evolve, we will need to turn increasingly to third-party services, so it is imperative that CAEs understand best practices in this area.”

The report is available at www.theiia.org/goto/CBOK.