ISO 9001:2015 Insight: Internal Audits

by Breda Kearney | April 17, 2019 | Blog , Internal Audits , ISO 9001:2015 , Quality , |

Internal audits are a valuable tool for driving improvement as they help the organization to identify weaknesses or gaps in the Quality Management System (QMS) which may impact on business performance and customer satisfaction. The purpose of the internal audit program is to determine if the QMS meets the requirements of ISO 9001 and the QMS procedures and policies and to determine if the QMS is achieving its intended results.

When planning the frequency of audits, ISO 9001 requires the organization to adopt risk-based thinking by scheduling the audits based on process importance – in other words auditing the customer facing and under-performing processes at a higher frequency (Typically 2-3 times per year).

In most organizations, the ISO 9001 auditors are selected from the Quality function, but to ensure objectivity and impartiality a multidisciplinary approach should be considered by developing an audit team that includes personnel from a range of business functions.

One of the biggest risks to the internal audit program is availability of resources – time and competent auditors. Often responsibility for performing the internal audits lies with one person and insufficient time is allocated to planning, conducting, reporting and following up each internal audit, making it little more than a tick-boxing exercise.

To truly add value to the organization, top management need to understand the important role that the internal audit system plays in helping to not only maintain ISO 9001 certification, but also improve business performance and ensure that sufficient resources (including trained and competent auditors) are provided and that audit findings are addressed using the corrective action system by the relevant process owners.

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