An internal quality audit is beneficial for any company or organization. But what is it exactly? How do we perform quality audit and why is it important?
To put it simply, a quality audit is an effort to verify and evaluate the conformance based on a standard procedure or specifications of a product, design, process, or system. Usually, this process is performed by a third-party auditor or audit team to conduct a systematic, independent, and well-documented review and evaluation.
In terms of an internal quality audit, the verification and evaluation processes are practically the same.
The difference is that it is carried out by stakeholders within the company itself. Moreover, it is focused more on whether the system is operating as intended to achieve the desired objectives.
According to a paper by Manueke and Manopo (2019), ISO 9000 and ISO 19011 are the two most widely used standards for an internal quality audit. The former is a standard of quality management, while the latter is a guideline for auditing management systems.
Auditing is often treated as a disruption to an organization’s operation, albeit necessary. This view is justifiable since a quality audit is time-consuming and requires effort. However, it’s still an imperative tool for organizations to maintain and improve their operations.
There are ten key points that are crucial in performing an internal audit. Below are the following:
1. Regular schedule. A regularly scheduled audit gives people time in advance to collect documents or prepare interviews, among others. Regular intervals between each internal audit also give a more elaborate insight into the organization’s performance.
2. Learn the procedures. Learning about the step-by-step quality auditing procedures as well as the administrative procedures you need to fulfill, will help you get a grasp of the auditing process in general.
3. Understanding the structures and responsibilities. Each and every party involved in a quality audit has their own role and responsibilities to contribute to the process.
4. A predetermined scope. The criteria used in the internal audit should adhere to the entire workflow with an emphasis on the more risk-heavy areas. While it’s suggested to keep the criteria consistent over time, it should also be flexible enough to accommodate the company’s growth.
5. Pre-planning. Everything related to the auditing process—from pointing to the auditor or audit team, informing the employees on what is going to be audited, formatting the audit, to conducting the actual audit itself—takes time. Therefore, these steps should be planned well beforehand in order to ease the process.
6. Prepare your staff. If your preparation is sufficient, all you need to do before the actual auditing process is to coordinate with your staff about the objectives of the audit. This way, you can maximize their cooperation and encourage them to share their own views and suggestions.
7. Conducting the audit. Auditors will take their time to gain a comprehensive insight into your company’s workflow and day-to-day cycle. Just follow all the processes according to the designated format.
8. Analyze the report. The final report highlights what the audit team has found during the auditing process. These findings are then followed by recommended follow-up actions, if necessary. Management can use this report to track quality and performance as well as improvement opportunities.
9. Acting on recommendations. The most important step in any type of auditing is to execute the recommendations. This is where true improvements and growth lies. You can discuss with your staff their insights in finding solutions to the report’s recommendation.
10. Monitor your progress. Compare your pre-audit performance with current performance after executing the auditor’s recommendation. This is to make sure that your company has truly improved and grown.
A thorough internal audit is great for the following:
· Measuring the conformity or non-conformity of the system elements with the specific precondition
· Verifying objective evidence of processes
· Providing evidence to counter any surfacing problems
· Ensuring the products are up to the regulations
· Identifying whether the quality standard is followed by the quality policies
· Correcting deficiencies
· Finding room for improvements
In order to truly move forward with the benefits of internal quality audit, it is equally important that the process is carried out using the right data and tools for proper evaluation. Nimbly enables companies to monitor, manage, and evaluate business operations effortlessly by digitizing manual checklists and converting real-time data into real-time insights. Find out more about Nimbly and our features disini.