Ten Tips for Selecting and Using a Consultant – 10. Schedule your internal audits differently

The purpose of an internal audit program (schedule) is to plan the type and number of audits, as well as, to identify and provide the necessary resources to conduct them.

The Plan-Do-Check-Act model can be applied to the management of internal audits:

Plan:   Define the audit program
Do:   Implement the audit program
Check:  Review the audit program
Act:   Improve the audit program

The auditors need to understand how the new clause structure and requirements will affect their audit plans. Instead of auditing by clause, the organization may decide to audit by functional area.

An earlier tip described the need to look at requirements from multiple clauses to fully assess a particular activity. Organizing audits by clause may limit the evaluation to just a subset of the planning, doing, checking, and acting requirements for a process.

Scheduling audits by functional area will promote an examination of all the applicable requirements (clauses) for the specific process scope. If audit results indicate problems with a particular clause across multiple areas, a supplemental audit can be scheduled.

Another method of auditing is to trace customer orders downstream (or shipping notices upstream) through the flow to assess department interfaces and process handoffs. Audits can also be scheduled for a specific contract or project to only assess the involved areas.

Remember that ISO 9001:2000 requires audits to be planned based on the status and importance of the areas being audited, as well as, the results of prior audits. Internal audits of critical areas or poorly performing ones must be scheduled more frequently.

If the scope of your system has changed based on permissible exclusions (see clause 1.2) or outsourcing (see clause 4.1), make sure your internal audits are scheduled and planned to provide full coverage of the system.

For information on permissible exclusions and outsourcing, refer to Guidance on Clause 1.2 Application.