Tags Posts tagged with "internal"


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Management systems such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001, require internal audits are scheduled at planned intervals; they do not established a specific frequency nor do they establish that all processes need to have a yearly internal audit. Therefore, organizations need to establish a frequency which is right for their business. Audits can be performed monthly, quarterly, twice a year or once a year. There are some criteria which should be considered before defining a frequency.

Complexity of the processes.

  • Crucial or high risk processes should be audited on a more frequent basis, perhaps quarterly or twice a year
  • Low risk processes can be audited just once a year or every other year

Maturity of the processes.

  • Well established processes that run efficiently can be audited once a year or every other year
  • New developed processes should be audited quarterly until they are stable

Past experience.

  • Processes that have a history of frequent deficiencies or non-conformities, can be audited quarterly or twice a year
  • Processes with troubles achieving targets and objectives can also be audited quarterly or twice a year

There are other factors that can influence the frequency of auditing, such as:

  • An organization’s budget for the execution of internal audits
  • Regulatory or customers’ requirements

There is no need to audit every process all at once, it is more suitable to spread out the internal audits throughout the year auditing different processes at different times. Auditing many processes all at once can be exhausting and process deficiencies or areas for improvements may be overseen.

Although most standards do not require that all process be audited every year, it is a common practice in many organizations. There are even some organizations, with mature and well-establish management systems, which schedule their audits over a three year time plan. Every organization needs to take a close look at each of their processes, their management systems and other applicable requirements in order to establish a rational schedule which fits their needs and is right for them.

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Auditor Training

Internal Auditors require theoretical and practical auditor training. Usually, when organizations train a group of internal auditors, the theoretical training is done by an outside organization.

This formal auditor training will have to consist of the following:

  • Audit principles
  • Objectives of an audit.
  • Types of audits.
  • Benefits of implementing internal audits.
  • Different auditing approaches.
  • Competences of an auditor.
  • Responsibilities of an auditor.
  • How to prepare for the audit: Establishing the audit program, defining the elements of the management system to be audited, preparation of checklists, selecting the audit team.
  • How to conduct an audit: How to contact the auditee, developing the audit plan, carrying out the opening meeting, how to gather evidences, defining findings, conducting the closing meeting.
  • Reports and Follow-up: Categorization of findings, preparing the report, approval and distribution of the report, monitoring.
  • Competence and evaluation of auditors: General, personal attributes, knowledge and skills, training and work experience, maintenance and enhancement of skills, auditor evaluation.

In addition to this basic auditor training regarding the skills, knowledge and competences of auditors and how to prepare, conduct and monitor audits, it is essential for internal auditors to fully know and understand the standard that they will be auditing against. Here an additional training session will be required. The most frequent standards that organizations use that require the execution of internal audits are ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001; however, the standards use will depend on the needs and objectives of each organization.

After an auditor has received this theoretical auditor training, they can now begin their practical training by participating in an internal audit. This practical auditor training usually is done following these steps:

  1. Participate in at least 2 audits as an observer or auditor in training. Here they usually participate in the planning stage of the audit but when the audit is being conducted they only observe; they do not take any actions in any of the activities during the audit.
  2. Participate in at least 2 internal audits with supervision of a lead auditor. Here they take a more active role in the preparation and in the conducting of the audit.
  3. After having successfully carried out a number of internal audits and having sufficient skills, knowledge and experience as an internal auditor, he or she may start to conduct audits as an internal auditor leader. This leader takes full action in all of the stages of the audit.

The above explanation is how internal auditors are usually trained; however, each organization may decide which way to train their auditors is best for them. What is important is for auditors to receive a constant and progressive auditor training that allows them to acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to conduct objective and impartial audits that meet the objectives for which they audits are carried out for.

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