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intact (NO Changes) with the links made active. Advice for the First Time Internal Auditor
Internal auditing is one of the most vital tools for continual improvement, and as such, this tool
is intended to provide Top Management with objective, fact-based information upon which
strategic decisions may be based.
One of the most important requirements of an internal audit is that it is fully focused on
assessing the effectiveness of the processes that are inherent to the quality management
system. Where such processes are found to be deficient, the audit will ultimately lead to
improvement in those processes, since a non-conformance in a process is, more often than
not, to do with a failure to comply with the relevant standard or procedures. Why do Internal Audits?
Clearly, the purpose of internal auditing is to measure the effectiveness of the quality
management system and its associated processes and the auditor’s role is to gauge how well
this system is functioning through the gathering of objective evidence. The auditee will often
be a processes owner; they are the experts of that process and as such will provide an
invaluable insight into the mechanics of that process.
The auditor is there to verify that the processes are documented, implemented and
understood. He will also seek confirmation that the processes complies with the necessary
requirements, that the process is effective and that it continually improves. The Human Aspect of Auditing
Good auditors realise very early on that they are dealing with personalities as much as
processes and systems. Whilst the intent of the audit a serious one, often light humour,
politeness and diplomacy are the best ways to build rapport. It is vital that every effort is made
to reassure those being audited that its primary function serves as a tool for improvement and
not to name and shame.
If you new are new to auditing, acknowledge this fact, be open and honest. It is also important
that you explain to those being audited that they are free to openly express their views during
the audit. Remember that you, the auditor, are also there to learn.
Always discuss the issues you have identified with the people being audited and always
provide guidance as to what is expected in terms rectifying any non-conformances or
observations that you have raised. Let those being audited know that they are welcome to
read your notes and findings; the audit is not a secret. Be careful not to be drawn into
arguments concerning your observations and it is never appropriate to name people directly
in the audit report, if you do, people automatically become defensive. Preparing for the Audit
Preparation is the key to a meaningful audit, and as such, you should have an audit schedule
and a well defined audit plan for each process. Be sure to communicate the audit plan to all
parties involved as well as Top Management so that they are aware of the audit, this helps to
reinforce your mandate.
The audit schedule should be a living document and should not be cast in stone but instead, it
should be allowed to evolve organically with the needs of the business.
Always review previous audit reports and non-conformance reports and check that any
previous corrective actions are still operating. Six Elementary Audit Questions
Often these basic audit questions will help guide the audit in the right direction since they will
often unlock the doors to information the auditor requires in order to accurately assess the
particulars of a process.
- What are your responsibilities? (5.5.1)
- How do you know how to carry them out? (6.2)
- What are the objectives of your processes? (5.4.1 & 7.1.a)
- What is the quality policy and where is it found? (5.3.d)
- How do you know which documents to use and whether they are correct? (4.2.3)
- What outputs does your process create and how are your records maintained? (4.2.4) Summary
Define what you want to measure; decide how are you going to measure it and decide what
objective evidence should be provided to convince you that an activity is performed in
accordance with the process. An audit of your key quality management activities will always
be more relevant and produce more meaningful results than a simple procedural audit. Author
To learn more about internal audits please visit ISO 9001 Checklist: