How to: Internal Audits

In this article I've got for you a few tips and tricks for internal audits. Majority of the management system standards that we work with require your organization to undertake internal audits, and the requirements of the standard covers several expectations.

When you're conducting your internal audits there's a couple of things to remember. One is that you plan them. It's important to have a schedule and the standards talk about that internal audits are planned. So, sitting down and drawing up a little bit of a roster for your organization and looking at the different components is your starting point. What are some of the processes that you have? For example, you might have four different processes: purchasing, value-add processes which might be design and development and maybe some warehousing, and then dispatch and delivery. So, dividing your business into those parts and then choosing a time that's relevant for the business that's not going to be a major impact is going to form your plan for the year.

When you then go on to undertake those internal audits I recommend that you divide your internal audits into three parts. When you're undertaking your internal audits, dividing them three parts gives you the opportunity to sit down and prepare. Do a desktop assessment and take the standard or the procedures that you're auditing against and have a look at what policies and procedures have been written and map them against each other. Is what you've written down and you're recording in our recipe? Does our method does that match what we're meant to be complying with?

The second step is to go out into your business and speak with your team members and ask them to show you how they use this amazing management system. We've spent the time in the business to capture how we do things and write it down, now are we doing what we said we would do.

The last part is to take your notes assemble your thoughts and how you're going to record them so you can critically evaluate them. As part of this you might have a non-conformance register, you might write a list of observations or you might just put some bullet points down to sit down with the management team and discuss some of the things you found that outline opportunities for improvement. You always want to have a positive spin on your recommendations. After all, this is about the cycle of self-evaluation on the business and the cycle of looking at how you're operating and looking at how you can improve.

Management systems are all about improvement so the positive spin is necessary to make sure it's well received, it's a great message and it's something that the business will take on an embrace. So, go out there give it a go you have my best wishes and enjoy it and have some fun!

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