All companies that value quality, or that need to demonstrate compliance with some standards, conduct audits of their management systems. In order to guarantee quality audits, and in a standardized manner, ISO offers ISO 19011, which are guidelines for auditing management systems.
The application of ISO 19011 can vary greatly depending on the size of the company being audited, its complexity or the maturity level of its management system. But the main audit principles are common to all of them, and include: integrity, transparency, professionalism, confidentiality, independence or impartiality, and the use of an evidence-based approach.
Based on ISO 19011 and best audit practices, here are 8 tips to optimize the management of your audits:
1 – Plan audit program objectives based on risks
Issues of greater importance should be prioritized, and to do that you need to constantly assess risks. Risk management must be holistic and serve as an essential criterion for defining your priorities.
2 – Select the audit team with care
Audit teams and leaders can and should vary according to the complexity of the programs to be audited. Make sure you train your team well and use your resources optimally.
3 – Invest in a management system
Management of the schedule of audits, checklists, reports, corrective actions, recording of evidence; everything can be facilitated with a good IT solution for managing audits.
4 – Continuously monitor activities
Track the progress of audit activities and use feedback from auditees and staff to make adjustments in the approach during the audits. Remember to also monitor the auditor’s performance.
5 – Review and improve whenever possible
Recurring non-conformities, change of suppliers or change of audit team members may require adjustments to audit frequencies and their progress. Be open to these possibilities.
6 – Prepare the audit plan
Invest in planning. Plan how much time will be spent to verify the processes and their documentation.
7 – Broaden your horizons
The balance between observation, interviews and documentation is key. The objective evidence can come from any one of these methods.
8 – Communicate during the audit
Records of non-compliance or improvement opportunities should be reported during the audit process and not just presented at the final meeting.