An Internal audit is one of the most important aspects within any management system. It is through audits that gaps, potential problems and possible solutions will be identified in order to maintain and improve the effectiveness of the management system.
However, not all audits add value to the system and in order for them to be truly effective it is essential that they are:
Planned and programmed.
The organization needs to carefully determine which processes will be audited (not all have to be audited at once or with the same frequency). In order to do this, they will need to take into consideration the results of previous audits, the complexity and risk of its processes and the maturity of each process.
Auditors should consider the natural rhythm of the process being audited, including the synchronization of processes and time and the availability of trained and experienced auditors.
Specific timetables should be elaborated and these must be informed in advance within the organization, detailing which processes are to be audited and when.
Carried out by competent auditors.
Auditors must be competent, objective and impartial. They must demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the processes and the standard which they are auditing against.
Findings and results are communicated effectively.
The findings and their details (nonconformities, positive areas and areas for improvement) should be communicated during the audit’s closing meeting to everyone involved. These findings should also be discussed with the auditee during the audit and before recording it.
This information must be communicated in an objective and friendly manner and any suggestions should be informed in a constructive manner.
Results are recorded and monitored.
The results and the corrective actions encountered during the audit must be recorded and monitored in order to ensure that non-conformities are taken care of and improvements made.
It is also important to establish who will be responsible for monitoring the actions necessary for closing a non-conformity or implementing an improvement.
For an internal audit to be effective, it is essential for this process to be carried out together with auditors and auditees. The planning and programming of internal audits must be done taking into consideration information given by all the people involved. Also, everyone must understand that the purpose of an internal audit is to identify possible weaknesses and areas for improvement in order to ultimately increase the effectiveness of the organization’s processes and its management system in general.