Auditing is verifying an organisation’s management systems against specific criteria, which can be customer-related, ISO 9001, or NDIS Quality Indicator guidelines. An auditor is a person who conducts this verification.
While having the necessary experience and qualifications is crucial for embarking on a career as an auditor, there are additional aspects to consider. Becoming a true professional in this field requires adherence to specific practices. In this blog, we will explore important guidelines that auditors should adhere to and certain behaviors they should avoid. By following these straightforward tips, you will enhance your skills as an auditor and be able to conduct audits that are both effective and insightful
Maintaining punctuality as a professional auditor is of utmost importance. With this in mind, here are some guidelines to consider:
Provide timely communication of your audit plan: It is crucial to inform the auditee about your audit plan well in advance. Sending the plan at least three weeks before the audit allows them sufficient time to prepare accordingly.
Adhere to your audit plan schedule: Arrive on-site punctually as scheduled in the audit plan. Commence and conclude meetings within the designated timeframe outlined in the plan. If you find it necessary to make changes to the proposed audit plan, seek the auditee's approval before proceeding.
Auditees have the right to be informed about your observations as an auditor regarding any gaps identified. However, it's essential to recognize that what you perceive as an audit nonconformity may not necessarily align with the auditee's perspective for various reasons. Conducting a daily brief meeting before the formal close-out is a recommended practice for professional auditors to validate the validity of any identified nonconformities. This approach promotes dialogue, allowing auditees to provide input and clarification on the findings.
Before disclosing any nonconformities in the formal closing meeting, a professional auditor will first verify them with the client's representative. Typically, senior managers attend the audit close-out meeting to be informed about the audit outcomes and their implications. It is important to note that the purpose of this meeting is not to request additional evidence. By this stage, your time with the client is concluding, and any lingering questions should have been addressed prior to the closing meeting. Failing to verify the findings earlier may lead senior managers within the organization to question the accuracy of your conclusions.
The role of a professional auditor does not involve raising nonconformities solely to justify their presence. Instead, all nonconformities should be substantiated by strong, objective evidence. As per ISO 9000 standards, objective evidence refers to data that supports the existence or accuracy of something. In the context of audits, objective evidence typically comprises records, factual statements, or other relevant information that can be verified.
To accurately describe an audit nonconformity, it is advisable to follow these steps:
Ensure effective communication of the audit findings and their implications to the auditees. It is crucial that they are informed about the consequences of identified nonconformities and provided with guidance on the necessary actions to address them. As a professional auditor, it is your responsibility to clearly explain the audit process to the auditees and ensure their comprehension of it.
Timely delivery of the audit report to the auditees is crucial. Not only should you present the findings during the closing meeting, but it is also important to compile them in a formal report. Clients are eager to receive the report promptly so that they can promptly address any identified gaps revealed by the audit.
Maintain a respectful and courteous approach as a professional auditor when interacting with clients. This entails the following:
Refrain from interrupting auditees while they are responding to your questions. Even if you feel their answer is irrelevant or not aligned with your expectations, allow them the opportunity to complete their response before providing your input.
As an auditor, your primary responsibility is to ensure compliance. This message should be emphasized during the opening meeting. It is important to clarify that your objective is not to deliberately uncover nonconformities to validate your presence. Rather, your role is to assess compliance and provide evidence of any identified nonconformities. If you come across an issue during the audit that the auditees are eager to address and promptly fix, allow them the opportunity to do so.(applicable to low risk observations only)
The main focus of your work as an auditor is to evaluate compliance. In most cases, auditees have already prepared themselves and are ready for assessment. Your primary role is to assess their adherence to the audit criteria, such as ISO 9001 or NDIS Quality Indicator. It is important to note that your responsibility does not involve providing consultation on how to meet the audit criteria. As an auditor, your time on-site is limited to a few hours or days, which restricts your understanding of the organization's complete internal operations and challenges. Your purpose is not to offer advice on corrective actions, as they may not be suitable for the organization and fall outside the scope of your audit.
During your time on client sites, your presence will typically span only a few hours or days. Identifying the underlying causes of nonconformities can be a complex process. It requires a comprehensive investigation to understand the nature of the problem and determine appropriate corrective measures. In many instances, nonconformities may be linked to individual performance or require additional resources and actions to rectify the issue. It is important to note that providing recommendations for corrective action falls outside the scope of the audit. As an auditor, it is advisable to refrain from offering such recommendations.
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