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Ultimate guide to External & Internal Audit for Your ISO Certification

Literal Meaning of the word “Audit”:

The word “Audit” has been originated by a Latin word “Audire” which means “To Hear”. It has been named so because in earlier times of industrialization, an auditor i.e. a person who performs audits was responsible to cross check the accounts of a firm by carefully listening to the accounts read over by an accountant. However, the responsibilities of an Auditor have been revolutionized due to extensive advancement in the work structures of the organizations.

Power Pack Role of an Auditor:

The responsibilities of an Auditor is not caged to Finance and Accounts department checking their balancing of long calculations sheets only but to verify the organizations’ practical implications of Code of Conduct, Business Ethics, Safety, Health and Environment, internal guidelines and principles.

Why Asking For Certification Audit Of Your Firm?

Your organization has been scoring well, your targets are getting achieved, your sales numbers are healthy, Accounts department has been presenting reports rightly etc. so why asking for external group of auditors of some other firm to audit your work structures when everything is working fine?

Firstly, one must accept the fact that you don’t know everything about anything. Audits are done not only to verify your documentation flow effectiveness and to gauge defined standards’ practical embedment in your system but to suggest Opportunities for Improvements (OFI) in existing good performing work structure of your organization. Moreover, auditors can indicate potential loop holes in your system security to warn you for any possible theft or can reveal a hidden fraud already being done by an individual or workforce working under you.

Top Five Reasons Why You Need ISO Certification:

  • Improved Customer’s satisfaction level with your Products and Services
  • Better Employee Engagement due to Enhanced Workplace Safety
  • Upgrading Quality of Products and Services and its Continuous Improvement
  • Value addition in Company’s Portfolio
  • Optimized Operational Efficiency leading to Increased Profit Margins

Why Every Business Should have ISO Certification

Need and Importance of Internal Audit?

Before requesting an external auditing certification body to audit your firm against any ISO standard, develop your own management system and documentation flow in accordance with defined ISO standards.

It is preferable to engage your employees while designing and documenting the processes or you can also outsource ISO certification consultants to help out making an effective quality management system for your organization under your guidance and support. After having your own emanagement system, internal audit can be conducted within the company to identify gaps and non-conformities.

It is further advised to have a follow up internal audit to ensure all relevant gap closures. Having an internal audit in your firm is like having a health check on your systems by yourself through your team members before someone else assess your system for you.

You can have a SWOT (Strength Opportunities Threat Weakness) analysis at the end of internal audit. After first internal audit, you can have another follow up internal audit to check if your weaknesses highlighted previously are converted into strengths or not, what are the hurdles to overcome highlighted threats etc. It will help a lot to save time and money before going to external audit.

How to Perform Internal Audit Leading to ISO Certification Step by Step:

Following are few essential steps of becoming an ISO certified body:

  • Have Your Own Management System:

Take a minute to think over your company’s goal or mission. List down all the stages or steps of processing of numerous departments functioning in your organization. Try to document all the primary procedures but don’t add unnecessary or obvious steps as it will create extra bulkiness in your documents and its flow.

Make sure you get all important segments of the process correctly written down and you have written down which is actually being performed in your organization by the hired workforce. After documentation of process steps, review it with your other in-house team members, get it approved by Head of Departments and distribute among all relevant responsible persons of your organization.

  • Implement Documented System:

Conduct training and refresher sessions of your employees regarding all the documents. It is preferable to have a post-test at the end of training session to check the understanding level of your work force and further to measure ISO certification readiness of your human resource as well.

After successful training sessions, create daily, weekly and monthly tracking reports of ISO Standards adherence. Monitor the results and review the documents by having management review meetings that should result in making some corrective and preventive actions. Take necessary prompt actions to improve the red highlighted areas during meetings with stake holders.

  • Verify System Effectiveness for ISO Certification by Having Internal Audits:

Make an Internal audit consisting of various persons from cross-functional departments and teams or you can initiate separate internal audit department for gap analysis and it’s timely closure. Ensure the making of a comprehensive internal audit report discussed and distributed to all departments that should have identified gaps, preventive and corrective actions. Create a little sense of urgency among your team to close the maximum possible identified gaps with timelines.

  • Registration for ISO Certification:

Meanwhile your company’s management brainstorm together and initiate identified gaps closure exercise, begin you search for an ISO consultant. Deep dive in ISO website to see complete list of ISO member bodies.

  • Execute Quality Management System Review:

After careful pick and choose process of ISO consultant, go ahead creating an ISO application with the help of consultant. Submit a copy of your company’s Quality Management System document for consultant’s review so that he can make sure that your Quality Management document meets all the requirement of ISO standard. By doing a couple of weeks’ review activity with the consultant, you will be more confident to initiate an ISO audit. On revealing of major loopholes in your Quality Management System, go again to the drawing board with your company’s management team. Requesting a pre-assessment need is another option in your basket during ISO certification process.

  • Kicking off an ISO Assessment for Certification:

Plan a particular date and time with ISO auditors and lock your team’s calendar accordingly. Kick off ISO assessment by an opening meeting of auditors with your staff, a brief tour of your facility, verification of documentation flow effectiveness, noting down of audit findings by ISO auditors, closing meeting and issuance of audit report. A comprehensive audit report will consist of non-conformities i.e. something that do not meets requirements of ISO standards. Further, non-conformities are divided into two types.

(a) Minor Non-conformity: Something that deals with minor infringements within the designed system and infraction of the process or its flow.

(b) Major Non-conformity: Something that can lead to complete breakdown of Quality management system or a potential risk to reach the customer resulting in failure of company’s brand image.

Keep in mind that ISO registration process cannot be completed without all major non-conformities closure.

  • Issuance of ISO Audit Report by ISO Auditors:

ISO auditors will have a closing meeting with company’s management in which they will discuss gaps, non-conformities (NC) and Opportunities for Improvement (OFI). ISO audit report will then be handed over to your company’s management team via email or post.

About Sunita Verma

Sunita Verma, Founder and President of Sync Resource started the company in 2009 with a vision to provide management consulting to small & medium size businesses around the country. Sunita holds a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio, Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering(India) with prestigious gold medal by then President of India and renowned Scientist Dr Abdul Kalam Azad. As an active philanthropist she believes in pay it forward and is a contributing member of charitable organizations like St. Jude’s Foundation and North Fulton Charities.

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