Closing Meetings

The primary purpose of an audit closing meeting is to present the audit findings and conclusions, ensure a clear understanding of the results, and agree on the timeframe for corrective actions.

The meeting is conducted by the lead auditor. The participants should include management of the auditee, as well as, managers of the areas that were audited.

The following agenda topics should be considered, as appropriate:

  • Introductions (attendees not at opening meeting)
  • Attendance (if required for audit  report)
  • Thanks (time and cooperation)
  • Scope (reminder of coverage)
  • Disclaimer (limited sample; brief time)
  • Criteria (applicable requirements)
  • Conformity areas (strengths; positives)
  • Summary of Nonconformities (by lead auditor)
  • Nonconformities (from auditors)
  • Conclusions (conformity, effectiveness, trends)
  • Diverging opinions (resolved or recorded)
  • Acknowledgments (signed forms)
  • Agreements (on proposed actions)
  • Report (expected date, if not provided)
  • Non-binding recommendations (if allowed)
  • Post-audit (actions, complaints, appeals)
  • Follow-up (verification of corrective actions)
  • Thanks (courtesy and hospitality)

When conducting the closing meeting, speak with authority and listen with interest. Maintain good manners, watch your body language, and maintain control of the meeting.

Keep a record of any issues that are raised during the meeting. If new audit evidence is provided, delete nonconformities that were written in error. However, keep valid nonconformities in the report, even if they were corrected prior to the meeting.

If applicable, the lead auditor should advise the auditee of any situations encountered during the audit that may decrease the confidence that can be placed in the audit conclusions.

If defined in the management system, or by agreement with the audit client, the participants should agree on the time frame for an action plan to address any audit nonconformities.

The level of detail in the closing meeting should be consistent with the familiarity of the auditee with the audit process. For some audits, the meeting may be formal with minutes being kept. In other cases, the closing meeting may be less formal and just communicate the audit findings and audit conclusions.

Any audit team and auditee differences of opinion on the audit findings or conclusions should be discussed and resolved, if possible. If agreement cannot be reached, the auditee concerns should be recorded and the appeals process explained to them.

If recommendations for improvement are presented, you should emphasize that the recommendations are not binding. Finish the meeting with a clear outcome and explain the next steps, assignments, and due dates. You can refer to ISO 19011:2011, clause 6.4.9, for additional audit guidance on closing meetings.