Internal Audit Process: Creating Your Step-by-Step Procedure
Internal audits are critical to the success of your organisation allowing you to effectively evaluate your compliance and identify any opportunities for improvement. Internal audits also ensure your organisation effectively prepares for any upcoming external audits and meets the requirements for certification or recertification.
This article will walk you through our essential step-by-step process for planning a successful and effective internal audit.
Internal Audit Process: Preparation
An internal audit requires attentive planning, organisation, and scheduling; therefore, it is important to prioritise preparation for the event.
Before you begin planning your audit, your management team should come together to discuss and define the scope of your internal audit. You should identify specific areas you want to focus on during the internal audit and the criteria that your existing system, products should be meeting to evidence compliance.
It is important to also meet with your stakeholders and discuss the scope of your internal audit to recognise their criteria and areas for focus, exhibit transparency and engender confidence.
Internal Audit Process: Planning
Once preparations have been completed you will now want to focus on designing your audit plan. Your audit plan must detail which areas of your system, processes or products have been identified for the internal audit, as well as which individuals have been selected for the objective internal auditing team.
Next you will want to outline the internal audit schedule, you will want to determine which date/s you will carry out the internal audit and which times you will be interviewing specific personnel or observing operations. Once the internal schedule has been finalised it is imperative to inform all involved parties of this schedule.
Now you will want to create your working papers, these consist of important documents such as forms and checklists that will be used during the internal audit to collect evidence of compliance. For example, you may wish to create a checklist that relates to specific clauses of the ISO Standard you are auditing against to check got compliance across each one.
Internal Audit Process: Executing the Internal Audit
Before you begin your internal audit it is important to inform all involved parties about the plan, scope, and requirements of the audit. This is crucial as you need to ensure that the internal audit process, plan and schedule you have designed is approved by everyone involved in order to comply.
Now you will want to execute your internal audit.
During the process ensure you collect evidence using a range of methods such as, interviewing personnel, observing operations, reviewing documentation, and examining records. Make sure to record any non-conformances discovered during your internal audit.
It is crucial to remember that audits are designed to help you improve your system, processes, and products and not about appearing perfect. External stakeholders value seeing evidence of problems occurring, being identified and fixed effectively as it is a much more realistic reflection of your organisation.
Once the internal audit has been completed it is important to summarise all the findings. You should then carry out a closing meeting to verbally present how the internal audit went to all the involved parties.
Internal Audit Process: Reporting
An audit report should be drafted by the internal audit team and then reviewed by management. The report should outline the outcome of the audit including areas that performed well or those that are in need of improvement.
Once the internal audit report has been approved by management, it should then be finalised and issues to all the relevant employees.
CAPA’s should be opened in response to each non-conformance that was located and recorded during the internal auditing process. Once the root cause of each non-conformance has been identified and any corrective or preventive actions implemented it is critical to consistently review their effectiveness and modify them as required.