Being audited can be a daunting process that stirs up a lot of doubts, fears, and stress. This can be especially true if the auditor will be evaluating your company’s management process based on information you have stored on spreadsheets, hand-written documents and other information stored in file folders and binders in different cabinets.
Your stress levels will skyrocket as you hope all the information that will be audited is up-to-date, accurate, stored accordingly and can be easily found.
To make it a less stressful and daunting process, I wanted to put together a couple of tips about how you can prepare for the audit and some of the things you can expect.
How to get prepared for the audit
First and foremost, learn the standards. How can you be ready for an audit if you don’t know what’s going to be audited and what the expectations are? Whoever is auditing you, will refer to the quality management system (QMS) requirements so this is a great starting point.
After you’ve learned the standards, it’s time to prepare your team for the audit. Along with auditing managers, the auditor will also audit every process, so making sure everyone is on the same page is crucial.
Now that you know the standards and your team is prepared, it’s time to get organized!
Organization is a critical part of the audit process and it will make your life a lot easier. Make sure you know where to find records and documents that are used daily (and get rid of what you don’t use). This will make it easier for you as well as for the auditor to get to the core issues of your processes.
Invest in a Quality Management Software. While it is 100% possible to track your company’s valuable information using spreadsheets or even pen-and-paper, a dedicated quality management software designed with compliance in mind is your best option.
A quality management software can analyze data quickly and easily, reducing potential errors and predicting potential failures.
Furthermore, using a quality management software will streamline your workflows, and all those physical records that take up space and causes clutter will now be stored digitally and can be accessed more efficiently.
Do an internal audit. This is a tip I highly recommend everyone uses. Your internal audit will work as a rehearsal for when the auditor is there. This is the best time to find out where your weaknesses are and what you can improve before the actual audit. This will also help put your team at ease since they will know what to expect when the auditor is there.
What to expect
The day is finally here! You’ve done your homework, your team is ready, you have a solid quality management software and you’ve made improvements based on your internal audit. So, what should you expect?
Basically, the audit process will consist of three steps: an opening meeting, audit of processes and QMS and lastly, a closing meeting.
In the opening meeting, the management team and the auditor will meet to go over the quality objectives. At this meeting, the auditor will discuss what his role will be along with the schedule of the events for the audit week.
After the opening meeting, the audit of the processes and QMS will start. Your operations processes will be audited using the audit schedule as a guide. Keep in mind that some processes may take less time than scheduled and others may take more time.
This here is the main audit event where you’ll get insights of what you could improve and of what you’re doing well.
Now comes the closing meeting. Here, is where the auditor reviews the entire audit with the company’s managers that were involved and will make a recommendation based on the findings.
And that’s it. Your audit is done!
When it’s all said and done, the ISO audit process is not a daunting process if you take some simple actions such as learning the standard, preparing your team, conducting an internal (or practice) audit and especially if you invest in a quality management software that simplifies enterprise-wide quality and compliance management programs.
Want to see what I mean? Watch this video and see what a quality management software looks like and what it can do!
If you want to learn more about quality audits, check out The 4 key steps in quality audits.