Quality audits are an important tool to help organizations grow and prosper. They provide mechanisms to evaluate the efficiency of the business. While quality audits are focused on processes and products, they also help managers identify whether the applied strategies are delivering results. In the case of deviations, they also help identify the root cause to take the necessary corrective actions. Conducting an audit correctly is essential to demonstrate to the market and your customers that you are QMS compliant.
Here are the 4 steps to successfully conduct quality audits:
The actions taken prior to the audit are decisive for the success of the activities. Planning begins with the preparation of a plan, which will guide the execution of the audit. This plan should present all the activities in a timeline, as well as the scope, detailing the processes, departments or products to be audited. At this stage, it is also important that the auditor identifies all related documentation, such as quality policies or procedures. Also at this stage, a preliminary list of the people to be interviewed can be drawn up.
This is the moment when the auditors can learn more about the company’s QMS, taking a closer look at the system documentation. It is important that each member of the audit team be prepared for the activity, with access to the verification checklist. The checklist is essential to guide the auditor so that no details to be assessed are overlooked, as well as for recording the findings and observations.
The execution of audits takes place with the collection of information, which determines if the department in question is following established standards and quality control procedures. At this stage, the auditor interviews people, asking questions and taking note of the findings. Depending on the findings, audit plans and checklists may have their scope widened, and may be subject to further evaluation. It is at this time that non-conformities will be registered, that is, situations that have occurred which are in conflict with standardized processes and procedures.
4. Conclusion and Follow-up
Once the audit is completed, the “real” work begins. The audit team meets to review problem areas and to determine recommendations for correcting quality problems. This information will be included in the Audit Results report.
This report is an important input for strategic meetings held by leaders. It helps to evaluate the results and define how to implement the improvement actions suggested by the audit team.
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