Internal Audit Tips

Updated 4 May 2012 A. Ochs

Internal audits help you learn about your company and find areas that are working and areas that are not working as planned. Whether you do internal audits to stay compliant with government regulations or quality standards, whether it is your first audit or your 100th, below are some tips to help the process.

Before an audit

  • Make sure the authority of the audit team is established — this will increase the cooperation from auditees.
  • Decide what areas of the company will be audited and the frequency of the audits. Prepare a yearly audit schedule and distribute.
  • Develop an audit plan. Decide what other audit resources are needed — checklists, other auditors?
  • Determine the purpose of the audit — is it to comply with government regulations, quality standards, internal procedures and systems? Define the scope of the audit — is it an overview of the area being audited or is it to concentrate on a specific system within the area?
  • Hold a meeting with the auditors to discuss the plan, purpose, and scope of the audit.
  • Read the documents you will be auditing against. Know what they say. Develop questions to ask the auditees.
  • Conduct an opening meeting with the auditees.

During an audit

  • Be professional at all times. Avoid being judgmental.
  • Follow safety procedures, clean room procedures, and all other required procedures.
  • Explain the purpose of the audit to the auditees.
  • Answer questions or discuss compliance problems brought to your attention by auditees.
  • Be flexible — if you find a potential problem not within the scope of the audit — evaluate the potential risks of the problem if left unaddressed.
  • Encourage honesty with the auditees.

After the audit

  • Hold an auditors meeting to discuss the closing meeting content.
  • Hold a closing meeting with all auditees involved with the audit. First, point out what was done well. Second, address the nonconformances and ensure the auditees understand the nonconformances and what part of the standard is not met.
  • Issue the audit report in a timely manner.
  • Encourage auditees to decide on the corrective actions. Allowing auditees to have input will give them ownership in implementing changes.
  • Assist those responsible for completing the corrective actions with setting reasonable deadlines. The corrective action deadlines may vary depending on the severity of the noncompliance.
  • Be available and willing to help the auditees.
  • Ask for feedback on how you and your audit team were perceived — adjust your approach if necessary.

One last tip: Involve people!

Use audits as opportunities to train others. Ask for a volunteer (who is not an auditor) to walk through the audit process with you as an assistant. This will provide others with a better understanding of what audits are and why they are necessary.

Invite all the auditees to the closing meeting. Having been an auditee, I know it helps to hear audit findings firsthand, the positive as well as the negative.

Involving people creates a feeling that everyone is a vital contributor to the goal of the company — compliance.

 

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