Imagine you were mayor of a village in the mountains located close to a dam. As mayor, you would need to oversee road management, welfare, security, and a host of other responsibilities. The nearby dam also deserves your attention, but you’re reluctant to divert time and effort to it. Alas! One day, the dam fails and your village is completely destroyed. Is the effort you put towards managing the village worth anything now?
Fortunately, as a business leader or manager, you’re unlikely to be responsible for dams or villages. However, you are responsible for an enterprise made up of employees, processes, infrastructure, opportunities and threats. Managing or overseeing all these elements takes energy. This energy is oftentimes taken away from big picture management, making it harder to identify problems before they turn into a gushing wave. Internal audits are a convenient and practical way to spot cracks with plenty of time to fix them.
What exactly is an ISO 9001 internal audit?
In a few words, this is the process by which you can assess the effectiveness of your business’ quality management system and overall performance. It’s a health check for your business, allowing you to see whether you are still ISO 9001 compliant and where improvement is necessary. This is an important characteristic of any proper internal audit since no business can be perfectly compliant, and it is always possible to do better.
Carrying out your internal audit
Internal audits can either be carried out by certified employees or external contractors. The best way to get the most out of this exercise whilst keeping costs and inconvenience to a minimum is through preparation. Using an ISO 9001 internal audit checklist, together with an audit schedule and plan, you will ensure that the appointed auditor will be able to carry out the necessary checks swiftly and effectively.
Apart from reviewing documentation and ensuring that reports have been filed as required, the internal auditor will seek to ensure that the business’ operations are adhering to the ISO 9001 standard. This is important, not just because non-adherence could lead to the loss of certification, but also because this is a sign of inconsistent quality. In practical terms, this could mean that clients are not receiving the same value and the business may be losing money and its reputation, perhaps unknowingly.
We might not make internal audits fun, but we can reduce the inconvenience
STEP can help you carry out your internal audit by providing the necessary training to your employees or offering our own auditors. Our team works with you to plan an effective schedule and utilises time-saving tools, such as checklists, to reduce the time taken to carry out this essential process.
Let's talk ISO