Auditing is the process of 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. In many instances, being qualified as a lead auditor and having relevant auditing experience can be enough for a certification body to engage an auditor on a full-time or sub-contract basis.
Having the relevant experience and qualifications can be a critical factor in helping you become an auditor, but there’s more to it. There are specific practices to follow to become a true professional. Here we look at some of the key things auditors should and should not do. These simple tips will help you become a professional auditor and conduct an effective and inciteful audit.
Being punctual with your audits is essential for a professional auditor. Given this fact, here are a few points to follow:
Avoid surprising your auditees with nonconformities. The auditee has a right to know what you, as an auditor, think about their gaps. Be aware that what you might think is an audit nonconformity might not be for many reasons. Running a daily brief meeting before the formal close-out is what a professional auditor should do to verify the validity of an audit nonconformity.
A professional auditor will verify any nonconformities with the client’s representative before disclosing them in the formal closing meeting. Senior managers usually attend the audit close-out meeting, where they are informed about the outcomes and consequences of the audit. The purpose of this meeting is not to ask for more evidence. Your time with the client is coming to an end, and any questions should have been addressed before the closing meeting. The organisation’s senior managers might question the accuracy of your findings if you didn’t verify them earlier.
It’s not the role of a professional auditor to raise nonconformities to justify their presence. All nonconformities should be supported by solid objective evidence. According to ISO 9000 standards, objective evidence is ‘data supporting the existence or verity of something…Objective evidence for the purpose of audits generally consists of records, statements of fact, or other information which are relevant to the audit criteria and verifiable.’
To correctly describe an audit nonconformity, follow these steps:
Clearly communicate the results and implications of the audit with the auditees – they need to know the consequences of the nonconformities and what actions to take to address them. As a professional auditor, you should explain the audit process to auditees and make sure they understand it.
Present your audit report to the auditees promptly. It’s essential to disclose the finding at the closing meeting, but you should also include these in a formal report. Clients want to receive the report as soon as possible to act on any gaps uncovered by the audit.
As a professional auditor, be polite when dealing with clients. This includes:
Your role is not to seek compliance. This is something you should reinforce during the opening meeting. Your aim should not be to find nonconformities to justify your presence. Your role is to evaluate compliance and show evidence of nonconformities if you find them. If you observe something that the auditees are keen to fix during the audit, let them fix it. In this situation, there’s no need to report something that has been corrected.
The primary scope of your work is to evaluate compliance. In most instances, the auditees do the preparation and are ready to be evaluated. Your central role is to assess whether they comply with the audit criteria, including ISO 9001 or NDIS Quality Indicator. Your job does not include consulting with them on how to comply with the audit criteria. As an auditor, you are only onsite for a few hours or days and don’t have a complete picture of the internal operations and challenges of the organisation. You are not there to offer advice on corrective actions. These might not work for the organisation and are not in the scope of your audit.
You will spend a few hours or days at most on client sites. Uncovering the root cause of nonconformities is often complicated. A thorough investigation is needed to find out what has gone wrong and how to fix it. It often might be related to personal performance and require additional resources and actions to correct the issue. Any suggestions on corrective action are not in the scope of the audit. As an auditor, you should avoid giving recommendations for corrective actions.
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