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Listen to: "Internal Control: 5 Key Principles of COSO Framework"

What is COSO?

COSO is the acronym used to refer to a model used for testing and evaluating internal control and processes. The COSO Framework gets its name from its origins; in 1992, the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission created the benchmarks and standards used to measure internal control effectiveness within a given organization. This initiative has come to be known as COSO, and provides a definition and insights into best practices for a brand’s operations.

What Is the COSO Framework?

The COSO framework is the model that outlines what internal control is; an ongoing process that is managed and impacted by management and a brand’s board of directors. Internal control, used properly, can help ensure success in operations, enhance efficiencies and even help an organization stay in compliance with regulations and laws. COSO is broken down into five distinct areas to make it easier to implement and to ensure nothing is missed.

In a healthy and effective system, the components below help move an organization towards fulfillment of its goals and mission and allows it to better reach its defined objectives.

5 Components of the COSO Framework

The Control Environment

This component encompasses your leadership, mission, goals and desired outcomes. Your ethics policy and commitment to integrity, your commitment to excellence and the way your hierarchy is structured are all parts of this important component.

Depending on your organization, your control environment includes your management team and Board of Directors, your HR department and how you work with employees and even your in-house policies. When your control environment is healthy, your organization can run more efficiently and with less strife and risk. The right people in the right roles are critical to success for this important COSO Framework component.

Risk Assessment and Management

What challenges does your brand face? This important COSO component directly targets your threats and weaknesses and allows you to fully understand your risks. Risk assessment includes a deep dive into your company objectives, how your processes work and above all, where and how things could derail.

Depending on your business model and industry, you could face risks from outside sources, ranging from cyber attacks and data theft to the loss of proprietary information, formulas and processes. You could also face significant compliancy and regulatory risk; brands in healthcare, manufacturing, and development all face industry-specific risks.

Discovering risks is just the beginning; this component also includes analysis and solutions and implementing changes that mitigate risk and prevent losses. The more effectively your organization identifies and addresses risk, the more successful you will be.

Control Activities

This COSO Framework factor examines your policies and procedures; how your security is implemented and even the plans you have in place to manage continuity. A robust plan to ensure business continuity in the event of an emergency, coupled with a proactive approach to security and upgrades ensures your control activities align with your mission and goals. The better your policies are at outlining your rules and expectations, the more successful your organization will be when it comes to control activities.


What factors, responsibilities and roles do you outsource, and how well are these external resources managed. The information you share and the way you convey it have a huge impact on your ability to properly and effectively outsource important initiatives and tasks.

Evaluating how well you are communicating and how well your needs are being met ensures your money is being spent wisely and that you are getting the best possible ROI for your outsourcing investments.


Establishing the conditions you want to work in and the policies your team needs to use is an ideal start, but unless you monitor and evaluate your processes you won’t be able to keep up with the changes. Ongoing monitoring can help discover inefficiencies and deficiencies and allow you to take action and keep your organization on track.

Get Help with COSO

It can be tough to evaluate your own internal teams and established methods accurately and objectively. Working with a brand that specializes in COSO and in enhancing efficiencies ensures nothing is missed and allows you to get the most from the process. If you’re not sure how to best use the COSO Framework or need help, get in touch. Our team makes it easy to define and then fulfill key initiatives that allow your business to run as efficiently as possible.

Send us a message or call us at 215-675-1400; we’re here to help your organization maximize performance and minimize risk.

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