Some people see audits as an opportunity for improvement, an opportunity that helps organizations and staff identify potential gaps and focus on their weak points. Others see audits as a process run by an auditor to identify their faults. Regardless of the approach, certain things need to be done in order to prepare for a stress-free audit.
An audit is an assessment of a specified scope against the criteria. Many types of audits occur in our day-to-day life. Some audits are run by the organizations themselves and they are known as internal audits. The others may be run by an independent external party, therefore, called an external audit. Regardless of the types of audits, there are certain things you need to do to be ready and prepared – it will help you to have a smooth stress-free audit. Here are some tips to help you successfully pass any audit.
Familiarize yourself with the audit process.
Every audit has its process – whether it’s an internal audit, external audit, supply chain audit, etc., there is a specific process. Familiarize yourself with the process relevant to the audit that you are engaged in. Including but not limited to: the auditor(s), the audit date, the method of assessments, the audit criteria, the audit duration, audit outcomes and consequences.
Familiarize yourself with the audit criteria.
Audit criteria are the basis that auditors use in order to evaluate a system. The audit criteria can be a clause of ISO 9001:2015 or the whole standard of ISO 45001:2018. As an auditee, you can use the criteria as a source to evaluate your readiness and identify your gaps.
Conduct an internal audit/self-evaluation prior to the audit.
You have already learned about the audit criteria. Now it is time to assess yourself and your system that will be audited against the specified criteria. The internal auditor self-assessment is crucial to help you evaluate your readiness for the audit. If you found some gaps, you can address them – in most cases those gaps will be accepted by the auditors. Do not forget to have an action plan for the identified gaps. You now have a clear picture of the potential outcomes in your upcoming audit.
Don’t panic. Non-conformities in audits are not the end of the audit process.
The outcome of any audit may lead to some non-conformities. It is part of the process to have some non-conformities. Things may not always follow the book and may appear as audit non-conformities at the end of the audit. In many instances, the audit non-conformities can be addressed within a specified timeframe. You will have time to come up with your corrective actions and fix the issues.
Ask your auditor to support their non-conformities with objective evidence.
The more you learn about the audit process, the more confident you will be in handling the audit. It is essential to understand the non-conformities. Ask your auditor to be specific about non-conformities and ask him/her to support the non-conformities with objective evidence.
Make sure you are following the process and adhere to the time frame.
The audit is over now, and you have been handed the audit report. You have to extract some points from the audit report and communicate with a relevant staff if applicable. In most cases, things like nonconformities and time frames to address actions or whom we have to update about our actions can be extracted from the audit reports. The auditors have to explain their processes during the opening and closing meetings as well.
Focus on similar findings across your organizations if it’s not picked up during the audit.
Most audits use the sampling method, so it is always recommended to look at audit nonconformities and evaluate similar gaps that the auditors may not identify during the audit. This will allow you to improve your organization’s performance against the audited criteria.
About LMS TRG
Fulfilling auditing requirements is essential for businesses complying with schemes such as ISO 9001:2015, ISO 45001:2018, ISO 14001:2015 or the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
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