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A brief guide to internal auditing.

Internal Audits are a key part of a successful management system, not just at their very least because they are mandatory to maintain ISO certification.

Their purpose is to check that your processes are running correctly, efficiently and are effective whilst complying the requirements of whichever standard you have implemented, and any other requirements to which the business subscribes and, as an aid for continual improvement.

Internal audits can be intimidating, and often get rushed due to impending surveillance/ re-certification audits.

There are two common questions we get when it comes to internal auditing:

  • How often should internal audits be conducted?

  • Who can conduct an internal audit?

How often should internal audits be conducted?

The first question is easy to answer, there is no set number. Audits should be conducted to ensure that all relevant requirements are covered with added focus on areas that present the most risk to your business and a high risk of non-conformance. Frequency will also depend upon the resources you have available to conduct them…

…which leads nicely into the next question.

Who can conduct an internal audit?

When it comes to who can conduct your Internal Audits there are two major choices:

  • Conduct them using an internally trained and competent resource.

  • Conduct them using an independent, trained, competent and experienced third party, such as an ISO Consultant like ourselves.

Conducting an audit using internal resources

If you are conducting an internal audit using an internal resource, then they need to be able to demonstrate competence in some key areas:

  • The capability to conduct the audit.

  • Knowledge and understanding of your management system & processes, procedures etc.

  • Knowledge and understanding of the applicable standard (e.g., ISO 9001, ISO 14001…)

  • Impartiality to the process being audited – this does not mean that an employee can’t conduct the audit, but they cannot audit processes that they have direct responsibility for or are directly involved in.

To be competent enough to meet these requirements you might participate in formal training, through a recognised training body.

Alternatively, certified Internal Auditors like those here at Quality Improvements UK Ltd can conduct training. These are typically more focused and personalised sessions.

Using an external resource

As a SME you may not have the time or resource to train someone (or yourself) internally.

In that case you can engage a third-party consultancy, such as ourselves, to plan, conduct and deliver your Internal Audits, as well as work with you to close out any issues that are identified.

Using a third party to conduct your internal audits has several benefits over the use of internal resource, including:

  • A fresh pair of eyes– They will have no preconceived notions or hang-ups with regards to your systems, they will look them in a way that members of your team are unable to and be in a good position to spot errors, complacency, determine the effectiveness and efficiency of your processes and suggest improvements.

  • Training & experience – External auditors like ours are fully certified to conduct internal audits and have a wealth of experience auditing across multiple sectors which will add value to your business.

  • Impartiality – Using an external consultant ensures impartial auditing. They have no vested interest in the outcome of the audits.

  • Compliance to your audit plan – We make sure that we are always available when you need us to perform your audits as planned. So that none are missed when internal resource become involved in other matters in your business when internal audits are planned for.

  • Cost effective – Cheaper than a full-time employee.

Which should you choose?

Ultimately, the decision is yours, so long as you ensure that Internal Audits are completed in a way that meets the requirements of ISO Standards.

Quality Improvements UK Ltd currently provide this service to several clients across a range of sectors who have been highly satisfied with the quality of our work and service provided over many years.

Hopefully this article has gone some way to helping you decide.

However, if you do have more questions, or need some help with your own audits then we’d love to hear from you. We’d also like to know if you have any experience with either of these auditing methods and what your opinion of it is over on our social media pages.

For more advice on all things ISO, keep an eye on our future blogs.


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