Opening Meetings

The primary purpose of an audit opening meeting is to confirm the audit plan and prior arrangements. It is also an opportunity to introduce the audit team members and describe your audit approach.

The opening meeting is chaired by the Lead Auditor and held with management of the organization and the areas to be audited. The meeting should be conducted in a friendly manner and put the auditee at ease. You want to create a sense of trust and cooperation from the very start of the audit.

If you will be assigned guides, or be accompanied by observers, the opening meeting can be used to carefully explain their roles to avoid possible disruptions during the audit.

Remember to allocate time in the opening meeting for the auditee to ask questions. The opening meeting can also give insights into the level of management commitment and support.

The detail covered in an opening meeting should be consistent with the familiarity of the auditee with the audit process. For internal audits in a small organization, the opening meeting may simply consist of communicating that an audit is being conducted and explaining the nature of the audit.

For other audit situations, particularly third-party audits, the opening meeting may be quite formal and even capture attendance records. The following agenda topics should be considered, as appropriate:

  • Introduction of meeting participants
  • Roles of auditor; auditee; guide; observer
  • Attendance list (names, titles, contact information)
  • Audit objective (purpose or reason for the audit)
  • Audit scope (coverage of areas; processes; clauses)
  • Audit criteria (applicable requirements)
  • Documentation status (changes since plan developed)
  • Agenda plan (agenda; assignments; meetings; times)
  • Audit methods (procedure; sampling; forms)
  • Risk management (reduce risk from presence of audit team)
  • Communications (auditee to be kept well-informed)
  • Language (to be used during the audit)
  • Confirmation of resources and facilities
  • Confidentiality (results only to the auditee)
  • Safety, security, and emergency considerations
  • Reporting method (including severity grading, if any)
  • Closing meeting (date, time, and location)
  • Acknowledgments (who accepts nonconformities)
  • Complaints or appeals (system for feedback)
  • Concerns or questions (ready to begin audit?)

Refer to ISO 19011:2011, clause 6.4.2, for its audit guidance on opening meetings.