Tags Posts tagged with "internal audits"

internal audits

1 3166
Effective Internal Audits

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

0 1544

The internal audit process is essential for any organization that aims to maintain and improve their management system(s).  However, achieving an effective internal audit process can be a challenge, especially for small and medium-size organizations.

Audits need to be performed by trained and qualified auditors with the sufficient knowledge of the standard being used in order to ensure independence and objectivity. Some organizations do not have the time or budget to train existing workers to become their internal auditors or to employ someone with the required skills to perform these audits. For those organizations, contracting out their internal audits is a feasible option. Some of the benefits organizations can obtain by doing so are:

  • Assure independence. Independence is likely to increase when the auditor does not belong to the organization. In some cases when a close relationship exists between auditors and auditees, independence and objectivity may be jeopardized.
  • Assure knowledge and skills. Most auditors from external organizations have years of training and experience. These auditors not only have the technical skills, but they also follow strict ethical guidelines.
  • Reduce costs. Employing an expert to perform the organization’s internal audits can be expensive. Contracting out will reduce the overall cost of internal audits.
  • Assure an up-to-date knowledge. As any other market, the internal audit market is competitive. This drives audit organizations to become more efficient and constantly improve the services they offer, which benefits the organization being audited.
  • Efficient use of time. Internal audits are time consuming. When they are outsourced, management has more time to focus on the core activities of their business.
  • Decrease the risk of disrupting internal audit. If an organization relies on one person to perform internal audits, a reliance on that person is created, which increases the vulnerability of process. This risk is reduced when the process is outsourced.

Outsourcing internal audits is an option that should be considered by small and medium-size organizations. However, each organization has its particular needs and circumstances and they should assess if it would suit them better to outsource internal audits or to create their own auditing team.

There are many organizations that offer audit services, and choosing one is a decision that should not be taken lightly. The time spent choosing the right one will assure an independent and objective audit which will contribute to the improvement of the organization’s management system(s).