ISO Internal Audit: 5 Things You Need to Know

An integrated management system or IMS brings several benefits to any kind of business. An integrated approach to management systems allows businesses to centralize the management and operations of quality, environmental, and safety management systems into an IMS, enabling a more seamless and more concise process flow. Because excellence is a common business goal, it goes without saying that everyone involved in maintaining and managing your IMS must strive for excellence as well. This is where global standards come in. Your IMS can be certified to global standards, including ISO 9001 for quality and ISO 45001 for occupational health and safety, among others. To achieve certification status, however, a business must conduct an ISO internal audit.

What is an ISO internal audit and how does it benefit a business?

An ISO internal audit is a process by which the effectiveness of an organization’s quality management system and overall performance is assessed, as per the ISO 9001 Checklist. The International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF) defined internal auditing as “an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve an organization’s operations. It helps an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control and governance processes” (via ISO 9001 Checklist). To achieve certification to international standards, businesses must demonstrate their commitment to international standards through compliance. An ISO internal audit is part of those compliance demonstrations. ISO internal audits are often conducted by ISO auditors and professionals in the field who specialise in this type of service. These auditors measure a business’ management systems against ISO standard requirements and observe business processes and how they are aligned with the business’ organisational objectives. They also ensure that your business is in compliance with certain legislative updates. So what do you need to know about an ISO internal audit before you begin?

An ISO internal audit can be divided into three parts.

According to the ISO 9001 Checklist, there are three common methods by which businesses can execute an ISO internal audit, the first being a system audit. The system audit takes a broad look at the overall integrated management system and checks whether the system requirements and activities are being implemented or executed accurately. Conversely, a process audit takes a closer look at the processes within the IMS to determine whether the processes deliver the desired outcome and meet specific objectives. The process audit allows for auditors and management to investigate flaws, risks, and problem areas in the system and come up with solutions for these issues. Lastly, product audits takes a closer look at the processes involved in design, production, and delivery and similarly identifies any issues that must be addressed.

An ISO internal audit is often guided by a checklist.

If your business is looking to undergo an ISO internal audit in preparation for certification to ISO 9001 or ISO 45001 or any other international standard, make sure that you have a checklist. An ISO internal audit checklist is a collection of questions based on the quality management system standard requirements and acts as a guide for auditors to analyze your management system. According to the 9001 Academy, developing an ISO internal audit checklist involves reviewing the ISO standard and then developing questions to ask during the analysis of the processes and the personnel and records involved in it. The goal of the entire process is to prove that each process meets its requirements. This is done by answering the questions developed in accordance to the ISO standards.

An ISO internal auditor or consultant is in the best position to conduct such audits.

If your business is considering an ISO internal audit, it would be a wise decision to enlist the professional services of an ISO internal auditor. These consultants are equipped with experience in your specific industry, thereby giving you a unique, unbiased perspective on your business processes. ISO internal auditors can also help you save resources and reduce costs, as you no longer have to train your staff to perform an audit. Internal auditors are already equipped with the skills and experience needed for an ISO internal audit. This lets you and your employees focus on your core competencies.

An ISO internal audit must follow a planned schedule.

As a business, it’s important to meet deadlines. This is the schedule by which processes run and objectives are met. Likewise, an ISO internal audit must follow an audit schedule. Planning an audit schedule involves letting members of your organization know about your intentions to perform an audit. It’s important that your employees are aware of such audits to ensure that they comply and perform well. Failing to inform your employees of an ISO internal audit sends the message that there is a lack of trust between management and employees. The 9001 Academy suggests making audit intentions known to allow process owners enough time to complete any pending projects, especially those involving process improvements.

An ISO internal audit encourages communication and collaboration.

An ISO internal audit is only effective and beneficial when businesses decide to act on its findings. More often than not, these audits result to the identification of several process issues that need to be addressed. Solving these issues will require the collaboration of process owners and management. It also encourages businesses to develop a communication system to properly disseminate the findings and the action plans for improvements.

If your business is interested in an ISO internal audit, get in touch with our professional auditors. Our ISO internal auditors are backed by years of experience auditing organizations from varied industries.

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