Using PDCA for Process Auditing

Are you confused about process auditing? Well, let’s begin with the definition of a process: a set of interrelated or interacting activities which transform inputs into outputs.

So, a process audit is an objective evaluation of a process to determine the extent to which the process is meeting its requirements. Using the process definition, the process audit includes an examination of process inputs, activities, and outputs.

However, a process is part of a larger set of processes that make up an overall quality management system. Therefore, a process audit must also consider the linkage and interaction of the process with these other processes.

A process diagram, sometimes referred to as a turtle diagram (see diagram above), helps illustrate the process elements to be audited.

1. INPUTS: (What Received, When, and from Who)

2. OUTPUTS: (What Delivered, When, and to Who)

3. WHAT – Resources: (Equipment, Tools, and Software)

4. WHO – Resources: (People, Skills, and Experience)

5. METHODS: (Procedures, Instructions, and Controls)

6. MEASURES: (Performance Results and Objectives)

The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) methodology can be applied to any process.

Plan: Establish the objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with customer requirements and the organization’s policies.

Do: Implement the processes.

Check: Monitor and measure processes and product against policies, objectives, and requirements for the product and report the results.

Act: Take actions to continually improve process performance.

Remembering PDCA can help you ask process-oriented audit questions:

Plan: How do you know what to do?
Do: How do you do it?
Check: How do you know it is right?
Act: What do you do if it is not right?

Likewise, PDCA can help you identify evidence:

Plan: procedures, instructions, flowcharts
Do: observations, explanations, records
Check: standards, specifications, targets
Act: accept, reject, adjust, rework, repair

For more information on process auditing, see the collection of Auditing Books at our web site.