Give your business a health check Pt. 3
5 September 2022 - Internal audits are a great tool to give your management system and business a health check. Working to a smart schedule will get better results.
Working to a smart schedule
In part one of this series,, we used the analogy of our body being a system, and having regular ‘audits’ like dental check-ups and eye tests. As we go through life, we also have other checks performed – depending on our age and other factors. Those checks are risk-based and offer a great example for our management system audits.
Sometimes we see an organization that plans to perform an internal audit against each documented procedure once per year. That’s what we might call a dumb schedule. The same amount of resources is put into auditing each procedure, regardless of its importance to the business, the known performance level, significant changes taking place or other risk factors. Of course, the scheduler hasn’t set out to make a dumb schedule – they probably just didn’t think about it, or didn’t realise there is a choice. Well there is. If that organization looks familiar to you, its time to move on to a smarter schedule.
The internal audit clause in most management system standards allow you to adjust the scope and frequency of your audit programme based on status and importance – in other words, risk!
Most risk factors fall into two categories – those related to change, and those related to a known history of problems.
- For those in the ‘change’ category, there is typically an increased likelihood of problems – particularly in the time immediately after the change. Depending on circumstances, the consequence of problems may increase, decrease, or be unaffected.
- For those in the ‘history’ category, there is typically an increased likelihood of problems where the same or similar root cause(s) are present
The schedule may be adjusted to take into account results from previous audits, events that have occurred, or other sources of information - such as monitoring and measurement results or external news / notifications.
An audit schedule does not have to be 'set and forget'. It should be flexible, and can be adjusted throughout the year as things change. The smart audit schedule allocates resources to where they give the best cost-benefit ratio. This heat map illustrates the point.
This blog post is part 3 in a series about internal audits - a crucial component of any management system.
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