To maintain a certified management system, whether it is an ISO 9001 Quality Management System, ISO 14001 Environmental Management System, ISO 45001 OHS Management System, or other type of certification, you need to conduct regular internal audits.
But don’t think of this as a bad thing – your internal audit, properly conducted, will find all the outstanding issues and allow you to deal with them before the external audit. Better still, when done well, internal audits:
- Identify key areas for improvement
- Drive and measure process performance
- Identify and reduce risk
- Strengthen internal controls.
So who should perform your internal audits?
The ISO 9001:2015 Standard says “select auditors and conduct audits to ensure objectivity and the impartiality of the audit process.”
This means that internal audits must be conducted by people who do not have direct responsibility for the activity being audited, so that there is no bias. The person who has responsibility for the process that is being audited should NOT be the person conducting the audit. It’s like marking your own exam paper.
Internal auditors must be knowledgeable in the principles and practices of auditing. This knowledge may be obtained through the successful completion of an internal auditing course, or on-the-job experience/training.
Is there such a person in your business?
Would that person be able to audit the entire management system?
Should they be doing your internal audits or the job you hired them to do? There are real costs involved in getting this decision right.
Does DIY cost you $$$?
“Doing it yourself” does not save money. Here are the benefits of using a qualified and experienced contractor to do your internal audits:
- Your staff save time and keep earning money: Experienced specialists will audit your whole system in a fraction of the time your company would take, freeing up your employees to do the core work of the business – the work that brings in money.
- Less training costs: By using consultants, you can reduce the investments required in training staff. And what about when standards change, or when your trained staff leave your business?
- Keeping it confidential: High-level management documents can be appropriately assessed by external consultants where it would be preferable for your staff not to do so.
- Contractors are independent: Consultants aren’t interested in office politics. There will be no “playing favourites.”
- A fresh set of eyes: Consultants can offer a new perspective, and see things from a new position. Long term problems are new to them, and they can offer new solutions.
- Improvements: Your consultant can find ways of progressing your business, and document these in a step by step manner.