Give your business a health check Pt. 2

ISO Internal audits
ISO clause 9.2 Internal audits - a health check for uour business

August 11th 2022 - Internal audits are a great tool to give your management system and business a health check. We explain how spreading the load offers many benefits.

Spreading the load

In some small and medium-sized organizations, all internal audits are performed by just one person. This can pose problems when audits need to be conducted on activities that the person normally performs themselves.
The auditor needs to be objective and impartial. Naturally, that means that someone should not audit their own work. The solution here is an obvious one - to spread the load. At least one other person - and ideally several people - should perform some of the audits. That will also provide a back-up in the event of the key person not being available at any time.

There are other benefits in spreading the auditing load, such as:

  • Simply reducing the workload on what is often a key person in the business
  • The task of performing an audit can be a good learning experience for the auditor – providing them with more thorough understanding of the business
  • Everyone will bring their own unique perspective – perhaps identifying issues and potential improvements that might otherwise go undetected

In view of the above, you might consider involving quite a few people in your organization’s audit team.

Requirements for an auditor

So, what are the requirements for an auditor? There are essentially two criteria that an auditor must meet. They must be:

  1. Independent.
  2. Competent.

Independence is achieved by ensuring auditors don't audit something they are responsible for.

Competence may be achieved by one of the following means:

  1. Recruitment of people that already have the required knowledge / ability.
  2. Training people in your team to give them the knowledge skills.
  3. Outsourcing to professional auditors.

...or any combination of the those options.

Experience over many years has shown that spreading the load of an audit programme leads to greater resilience when unexpected events occur, and a broader range of insights. These lead to a more effective management system.

Developing audit skills

We shouldn’t just assume that anyone can step in to do an audit and immediately achieve good results. An auditor must be able to appreciate the concept and understand the purpose of the exercise, develop a checklist, conduct an interview, obtain evidence, and write a report. While that might seem daunting, most people can do it well once they have been provided with just a day or so of training. They can learn the ‘do’s and don’ts’, and tools and techniques to achieve good results. It only needs the trained auditor to find one or two problems that can be fixed to pay off the investment in their training.

The buddy system can also help the new auditor in their first few audits by leaning on the assistance of a more experienced colleague while they get comfortable with their new role.

This blog post is part 2 in a series about internal audits - a crucial component of any management system.

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Working at desk photo by Tyler Franta on Unsplash