Quality Management internal auditing is performed in an organization to assess strengths and weakness, and identify areas of noncompliance. These audits are usually conducted by employees of the organization to assess processes they are not directly involved in to ensure an unbiased analysis.
Information gathered from a well performed internal audit can provide insights for improvements in the organization and increased efficiency. Additionally, when trained to be internal auditors, employees can identify areas for improvement in their own areas of operation and become more effective contributors to the Quality Management System.
The Importance of Auditing
Auditing is an important step in the Plan, Do, Check, Act methodology that is incorporated in ISO 9001, ISO IEC 27001, and AS9100D and other standards. As such it is a requirement in all Quality Management Systems. Auditing checks on the effectiveness of plans that have been implemented. Findings from audits provide actionable items to implement new plans or modify old ones to drive continuous improvement.
Organizations undergo constant change as personnel transition, technologies mature, market places evolve, and customer expectations change. These factors, and others, can alter the effectiveness of a management system in ensuring levels of quality for their products and services. Processes and work procedures may no longer be up to date or be effectively communicated in training. The internal audit function can uncover these deficiencies.
Types of Audits
There are three types of audits; first party-audits, second-party audits, and third-party audits.
First-party audits are performed by inside an organization to assess strengths and weakness. This can serve to identify areas of noncompliance so that corrective actions can be taken. These internal audits are usually conducted by employees of the organization to assess processes they are not directly involved in to ensure an unbiased analysis.
Second-party audits are provided by an external entity. These external audits can be requested by a customer to confirm that an organization is performing as required. It can also be initiated by the organization itself to provide a gap analysis or find if the organization is in compliance and ready for certification.
Third-party audits are conducted by external auditors to certify the organization to the standard being implemented. These certification audits ensure that the organization’s operations are in compliance with the requirements of the standard. They will examine processes to see if they are being implemented as they are documented. They will also assess if the management system has buy in from upper management and is sufficiently resourced.
Learning How to Perform an Internal Audit
As with any other quality management function, internal quality audits use a process approach. These processes provide a step by step methodology that engages all aspects of the QMS standard. They include defining a purpose and scope, developing check lists and questions, creating reports, and completing follow-up activities. These activities are scheduled by upper management so that findings can be reviewed at management review meetings.
Once the functions of the audit have been defined the auditor must engage in the performance of the audit. This requires the development of some very important interpersonal skills. These skills include making people being audited feel comfortable, learning to listen, reading body language, and developing a line of inquiry during the interview process.
Stages of the Internal Audit
An internal audit is performed in a series of stages. These stage include the following steps:
- Audit Planning: The audit is scheduled so that all parties are aware of the upcoming audit. The schedule and scope are determined and audit checklists prepared.
- Opening Meeting: The audit team explains the the specific processes to be examined.
- Performance of the Audit: The audit commences and completes it planned activities
- Closing Meeting: A meeting is help to review audit team findings including any nonconformities.
- Follow Up Activities: Reports are completed and actions taken to address nonconformities found in the audit.
Learning How to Participate in an Audit
Employees are often likely to feel threatened by an audit. It is important to stress that quality management internal auditing is an important part of an organization’s operations and they should not feel threatened. Additionally it is important for employees being interviewed to understand that it is important to be concise in their answers. An audit is not a time for a life story or to branch out into areas other than those being asked about.
CVG Strategy Quality Management Expertise
Our Exemplar Global Lead Auditor Consultants can help you develop an effective Quality Management Internal Auditing team to perform first-party audits within your organization. We can also help you implement a new quality program, provide training, and perform second party audits to ensure that your organization complies with contractual requirements.
Our quality strategy allows clients new to Quality Management Systems to rapidly implement a tailored system, because everything we do as consultants is processed based. Our Quality Experts have experience with ISO 9001:2015, AS9100D, ISO 13485:2016, ISO IEC 27001:2022 and Association of American Railroads (AAR) M-1003 and can readily deliver compliant procedures and work instructions.
CVG Strategy is a consultancy offering coaching, mentoring, training and program development focused on areas including Business Process Improvement, ITAR and Export Compliance, Cyber Security and Product Test and Evaluation.