During a recent webinar I posed the question about what was troubling people most about their management system internal audit programme. One of the top answers was that people were looking for a fresh approach to auditing.
People said that most of their audits are carried out using standardised checklists. This approach certainly meets the requirements of the various ISO standards including ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and the soon to be released ISO 45001. However, these types of audits became quite predictable.
I regard that the use of standard checklists is more an inspection rather than an audit. Inspection involves checking that activities have been completed and usually involves just one person. The primary focus is compliance.
Internal audits should involve two or more people who are independent of the work being audited. Their focus is on improvement as well as compliance. Using the same people with the same checklist each time you audit will not result in discovering new opportunities to improve the business. Yes; it ticks the ISO clause 9.2 internal audit requirement box. The question is - does it add any value to your business?
No checklist can cover everything that is critical to the business. There will always be items on it which are of less importance than ones that are not on even on the checklist.
By bringing new people in to conduct the audit means that they would most likely look in areas that have never been looked at. They would bring a fresh perspective to the audit and are likely to find big holes in work processes and provide great opportunities for improvement.
If you need a fresh approach to auditing your management systems try changing your audit team and have them put aside the old checklist to develop a new checklist with items that have never been looked at before.
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