Internal audits are a powerful tool that and can be used to systematically and objectively assess compliance across an organisation to identify any weaknesses, shortcomings and opportunities for improvement.
The word audit can seem scary, but they actually provide a great opportunity for companies to learn, develop and refine their protocols, systems and processes to enhance and strengthen their business.
- What is an ISO internal audit?
An ISO audit is an independent, systematic and documented process that evaluates an organisations processes, protocols, systems and processes with those of their chosen ISO standard to determine if they are compliant. Their purpose is to identify any weak spots or shortcomings so that changes can be made to improve or resolve them.
Here we give you some tips to help you feel better prepared for your internal audit.
- Plan the Audit Schedule
Create an audit schedule that includes a timeline for certification (if that is your goal). Be sure to allow for flexibility and sufficient time to complete projects and resolve any problems that might come up.
A surprise audit rarely benefits anyone so make sure that this schedule is made readily available to everyone involved. This way employees feel trusted and are given plenty of time to prepare so that they are better able to support the process and make any necessary improvements they need to.
- Create Audit Checklists
This will help to provide the vital structure needed for your audit that works to ensure that none of the key components are overlooked and that all the necessary bases are covered. It also helps to make sure that the whole team are on the same page, that no work is duplicated and that everybody knows what needs to get done.
This checklist should cover every component of the chosen ISO standard in detail and work as a step-by-step guide through the audit process. Using this you can assess whether you are meeting the requirements or if you need to make changes, improvements or modifications to any processes, protocols, systems or products to achieve this.
- Set Out Your Goals
If the purpose of the audit is to help you achieve certification, then keep that goal in mind when you are creating your audit schedule.
Achieving certification can be a long process that takes time and patience. Being aware of your certification goal can go a long way when it comes to helping streamline your energies which can save time and money during the auditing process.
- Engage With Employees
Speak to and interview employees so that you can get them to explain their work processes, get an understanding of what they do, how they do it and compare it to the written policy. This helps to comprehend the scope of employee competence and can identify any employees who may benefit from additional training.
- Corrective Actions
As soon as recurrent problems are identified, corrective actions should be taken to resolve them and prevent nonconformity. If these issues are left to be found by the auditor, then they could end up requiring a quick fix to rectify the issue or potentially face delaying the certification process.
Create an easy-to-understand reporting system that allows you to easily demonstrate, display and present;
- Recorded results
- Differences in how policies are written
- Where guidelines are followed and where they are not
- Information gathered from interviews
- Gaps in non-compliance
- How to bridge non-compliance gaps
- Action plan for improvement