An internal audit is a form of inspection – where the item being tested or inspected is the management system. Internal audits are therefore an evaluation of how products are performing currently in comparison to how they ought to or how you expect them to be doing.
Audits enable you to identify areas of the system that need attention so you can work on these weak points before they become detrimental to the bottom line of the company. One thing though is that internal audits are known to induce a lot of stress even in organizations that have complete trust in their products and services.
Internal ISO Audits
One of the main requirements of any ISO certification is that you conduct audits in planned intervals to determine if company processes conform to standard requirements and the requirements set out by the organization. These audits should also help in establishing the effectiveness of implementation and maintenance of processes. For example;
ISO 9001 Internal Audits – are required to be conducted to establish the efficiency and effectiveness of a company’s systems and processes in meeting customer needs.
ISO 14001 internal audits – help in determining a company’s environmental management activities effectiveness in reducing exploitation of natural resources and reducing pollution.
The most popular standardization, ISO 9001 for instance requires companies to conduct regular reviews of their Quality Management Systems (QMS) to;
Establish continued suitability and success
Uncover any dangers, defects and/or irregularities
Eliminate losses and wastages
Continually monitor the effectiveness of management at every level within the company
Ensure that managerial methods and objectives are capable of achieving desired results.
An ISO internal audit process involves three parties;
A client – the person or group of people with the authority to order for the auditing
An auditor – the person or people tasked with performing the auditing
An auditee – the company to be audited
ISO Internal Audits are performed by employees of the auditee. In first party audits, this auditee is usually the client. However, some companies find it cost effective and time saving to sub-contact their internal auditing to reputable auditing and consulting companies.
Getting the most out of your audits
Since internal audits pose a huge challenge, you should always seek to make the most out of every audit. Here are 3 opportunities directly related to implementing internal audit programs which you may seek to tap into as you move your company towards a standards compliant organization.
Determining a fitting strategy
The success of any internal audit program depends on the strategy used in its implementation. Who conducts the audits? When and how frequent are the audits? How will the auditors be trained? If you can come up with a working formula, your organization will benefit from an improvement in managerial effectiveness.
Training the auditors
The auditors need to understand the auditing program and how to satisfy standard requirements. Trainings must be appropriate, fully covering complexity of areas to be audited without compromising the significance of the auditee’s internal processes and systems.
For greater results, you should conduct your trainings in-house to enable your employees (trainees) to learn about company specific methodologies. Internal trainings also enhance workspace variety often leading to job satisfaction.
Using internal audits as a tool in implementation
Whenever you implement a new system, ISO internal audits can be used as a tool for implementation.
Always compare your internal audit reports with second and third party audit reports to uncover missed deficiencies. This will set you on the path for continuous improvement.