Tags Posts tagged with "process approach"

process approach

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Process Approach
Process Approach

In the past, most auditors used a formal clause approach when auditing a management system; today, many auditors are leaving behind the checklist that served as a useful guide to identify the conformance with applicable requirements, and are now using a process approach to perform their audits.

Some aspects that give importance to this approach are the following:

  1. Process Approach focuses on results, not on procedures.

    Management systems are not just a set of documented procedures; they are an active system of processes that address business risks and its applicable requirements. By reviewing the process and not just the procedures, it becomes easier to evaluate the results of the process and how effective these really are.

  2. Process Approach determines the effectiveness of the management system.

    Audits conducted using a process approach provide information on whether performance targets are being met, they identify opportunities to improve performance through better process control and determines how processes can be more effective and efficient in meeting the system’s applicable requirements.

  3. Process Approach evaluates links between departments and processes.

    Interactions between the processes of an organization can often be complex, resulting in a network of interdependent processes where the output of a process can be the input of another. By following the flow and continued work throughout the organization, it’s possible to review and evaluate the sequence and interactions of processes, their inputs and outputs and the effectiveness of these interactions.

  4. Process Approach determines whether the operations are under control and whether the controls are effective.

    The process approach not only focuses on whether controls are in place but also on how efficient these really are in maintaining and improving the effectiveness of the process and the system.

  5. Process Approach helps determine the depth of the problems through the organization.

    When a problem is found, it is easier to determine the severity of its impact on the system by reviewing the entire process and it’s interactions with other processes.

  6. Process Approach focuses on the benefits of correcting non-conformities related to improving organizational effectiveness.

    Process based audits help organizations in evaluating the effectiveness of their processes. It serves as a tool to identify weaknesses and opportunities to improve the existing connections between policy, requirements, performance, objectives and goals, which will ultimately contribute to the overall success of an organization.

Management systems are a complex set of interactions between different activities carried out in different areas of an organization. When these activities are viewed as being part of a process, it is easier to understand these interactions and how they go beyond the boundaries of a specific functional unit. Also, by auditing an entire process, the people involved in it will have a greater understanding of how their activities influence the overall effectiveness of the organization’s management system.

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There are different approaches to auditing; these can be performed by clause, department, tasks, etc. The most commonly used by auditors is the clause approach,  where the auditor goes by each clause, usually with a checklist, searching for evidence of requirement conformance and writing nonconformities (minors or majors) if any are found.

These approaches tend to focus mainly on procedures and not on the performance, outcomes and results of the organization’s processes. Hence, audits result in the correction of minor problems and not in the improvement of the system and its processes.

The process approach to auditing focuses on reviewing the sequence and interaction of processes and their inputs and outputs. It analyzes the management system not just as if it were a set of documented procedures, but rather as an active system of processes that addresses business risk and its applicable requirements. The main elements that a process-approach audit reviews are:

  • Process Owners
  • Inputs and Outputs of the process
  • Resources
  • Methods/ Procedures/ Instructions
  • Controls/ Measurements/ Metrics
  • Documents/Records
  • Efficiencies/ Effectiveness

In order to take this approach, it is required to plan and perform the audits so they are based on the processes that achieve organization’s objectives. The audit needs to be conducted through business processes and across department boundaries; some of the processes that need to be audited are:

  • Business management
  • Marketing and sales
  • Resource management
  • Purchasing
  • Product / service production processes

Audits conducted with a process approach provide information on whether performance targets are being met, they identify opportunities for improving performance through a better control of processes and determine how processes can be more effective and efficient in meeting the applicable requirements. Some of the aspects that make this approach a valuable one are:

  • It focuses on results, not on procedures.
  • Determines the management system’s effectiveness.
  • Evaluates the outcomes and results of the system.
  • Evaluates linkages between departments and processes.
  • Follows flow of work throughout organization.
  • Determines if operations are under control and if controls are effective.
  • Allows judgment on significance of findings.
  • Helps determine depth of problems across organization.
  • Focuses on benefits of correcting nonconformities related to improving organizational effectiveness.

Organizations that wish to comply with a standard have to meet the requirements established in it, but in some cases, just meeting these requirements does not necessarily add value to the organization. In order for an organization to be competitive and successful, its operational processes must work together in achieving its goals and objectives. A process based audit assists organizations in assessing the effectiveness of these processes; it serves as a tool to identify weaknesses and opportunities to improve the connections between policy, requirements, performance, objectives and targets, which will ultimately contribute to an organization’s overall success.