ISO 9001 Internal Audit: Five Main Steps to Make It More Effective
Executing an effective ISO 9001 internal audit is one of the major initial step towards the success in building Quality Management System in your existing organization. The result of ISO 9001 internal audit must highlight the type, nature and scope of management system, identification of gaps, corrective and preventive actions leading to continuous improvement cycle.
However a fruitless ISO 9001 internal audit leads to high ineffectiveness, non-value addition and a total wastage of time and energy that’s why it is critically important to deploy trained and skilled internal auditors team to conduct internal audit of ISO 9001. What differentiates an effective ISO 9001 internal audit from an ineffective ISO 9001 internal audit is the “Commitment of Senior Management”. The more the senior management shows commitment to pursue internal audits as per schedule and without any delay, the more employees be careful to make it a first priority among their day to day tasks no matter what.
Ways to Avoid Common Pitfalls to Poor ISO 9001 Internal Audit
Generally there can be many other possible reasons of ineffective internal audit being conducted at your workplace but in most cases the reasons found are having underdeveloped internal audit process.
Following are five main steps that defines a strategy in making ISO 9001 internal audit more effective.
Step 01: Getting Accurate Knowledge about Definitions, Status and Importance of ISO 9001 Internal Audit.
It is critically important to have the basic understanding as well as to be able to distinguish among various auditing terminologies. Before going for ISO 9001 certification, it is suggested to take a dip test of all your employees’ (auditees’) current knowledge level and also ISO internal auditors so that you can gauge their understanding level and arrange necessary training sessions in case of any training arises. ISO 9001 internal auditors must be able to differentiate between Status and Importance.
Status: The definition of the Status can be referred as the current achievement and compliance level of any department or organization against set targets, policies, goals, objectives and expectations. Moreover, internal auditors need to see the past records of about how the performance was in past, how many root causes have been identified and solved using problem solving methods and what type of corrective and preventive actions were taken.
Importance: Importance is about how critical a subject is. Is it a potential major non-conformity that will directly affect the customer leading to customer complains? The technique of Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) can be used to identify the important critical areas.
Step 02: Avoiding Ineffective Schedule Planning of ISO 9001 Internal Audit
An external ISO 9001 certification auditor will thoroughly study ISO 9001 internal audits and its outcomes. Moreover. The external ISO 9001 certification body will also see how many time ISO 9001 internal audit has been rescheduled or how much delayed corrective and preventive actions are existing in current management system.
This study approach will allow the external ISO 9001 certification auditor to determine the level of importance and commitment senior management and employees give to ISO 9001 certification. Therefore, it is mandatory to follow ISO 9001 internal audit schedules very seriously and professionally. Following factors should be kept under consideration while doing ISO 9001 internal audit:
- Being Ahead of Any New Amendments: Incorporate any new changings being made in equipment, processes, quality initiatives, new root causes identified, new employees induction or complete change of higher or middle management
- Execute Audits of Short Durations: Highly concentrated, prolonged discussions and hours and hours being spent in long meetings brings in monotony in the internal audit system that should be broken. One can execute weekly or monthly audits rather than having detailed and prolonged quarterly or annual internal audits. Weekly or monthly internal audits will be quick, effective, will exhibit better employee engagement level and more result oriented.
- Utilizing Top Talent as Internal Auditors: We suggest you to always depute skilled and trained staff in ISO internal auditors’ team. Another best idea to hire efficient internal auditor is to hire new talent of yours because they will be new to your current management system and they will keep on asking Why (may be more than five times) to find exact root cause until they get satisfactory result.
- Design and Follow Checklist: Prepare a checklist especially when you are first time auditor as it will help you to stay focused and stick yourself to process based approach only leading to useful outcomes of ISO 9001 internal audit.
- Some Good-To-Haves: Examining customers’ feedback, company’s website and customers’ queries and noticing how the organization’s customer care handles the queries is also a good practice.
Step 03: Full Effective Utilization of Internal Auditors
Internal auditing is a technique that gets refined only by practice. Doing multiple audits as internal auditors will help to refine in-house internal auditors so that answering to external ISO 9001 certification auditor becomes much easier.
Step 04: Avoid Delays in Mutually Agreed Timelines of Corrective and Preventive Actions
Previously the point of conducting internal audit on time was given emphasis. It has been observed that even internal audit being conducted on time, the team of auditors fails to submit audit report to auditees to decide corrective and preventive actions and their timelines. Another case is having report being submitted on time, the auditees fail to comply corrective and preventive actions deadlines. It is really important not to give un-necessary relaxation for the completion of corrective and preventive action as it will lead to delay in ISO 9001 certification process.
Step 05: Ensure to Reflect Process Based Approach through Internal Audits
The new versions of ISO 9001 represents a focused approach on process and its effectiveness. To get in depth idea about process based approach and the purpose of ISO 9001 audit clearance, many people fail to understand the core essence by skipping the step of formal training of their employees and the auditors.
Those organization that are struggling to get ISO 9001 certification or re-certification and who has not a clear picture of what ISO 9001 process based approach really is, should get themselves trained about ISO 9001 process based approach.
After explaining all the five steps being defined above, it is still very important for the senior management to show commitment and support their team to deliver promising results not only for ISO 9001 certification but for organizational improvement as well. Get free quote from reliable and experienced ISO certification team of Sync Resources now!
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Sunita Verma, Founder and President of Sync Resource started the company in 2009 with a vision to provide management consulting to small & medium size businesses around the country.
Sunita holds a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio, Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering(India) with prestigious gold medal by then President of India and renowned Scientist Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
As an active philanthropist she believes in pay it forward and is a contributing member of charitable organizations like St. Jude’s Foundation and North Fulton Charities.
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