Auditors often struggle with, or overlook, assessing how well the system has performed.
Every audit situation should be examined from three perspectives:
1. Intent: “Have you said what you do?” Do the defined or documented processes adequately express your approach?
2. Implementation: “Have you done what you said?” Do the observed and recorded practices show conformance with the stated intent? ...do not be afraid to challenge and probe or follow an audit trail to see where it leads you.
3. Effectiveness: “Have you done it well?” Do the results of the process indicate the desired outcomes have been achieved? ISO 9000 defines “effectiveness” as the extent to which planned activities are realized and planned results are achieved. In other words, to judge effectiveness you look not only at the conformance of a process, but also at its results compared to its objectives.
Remind Auditors how to verify conformity
Internal auditors often only rely upon documents and records as evidence of process conformity and don’t adequately interview personnel and observe operations.
After determining the audit criteria (requirements), objective evidence should be gathered in four different ways for more complete and effective audits:
1. Interview personnel Based on your audit planning and checklist questions, ask employees about their jobs. Listen to what they tell you and see if their explanations match the defined process. Use open-ended questions to elicit more complete responses. Do not be afraid to challenge and probe or follow an audit trail to see where it leads you. Talking to people is the best possible way to test their understanding and knowledge about the processes and sub-processes in which they are involved.
2. Observe operations Aid your own understanding of the process by watching it being performed. See if the observed practices comply with requirements. You will discover the persons being interviewed are more relaxed when you allow them to demonstrate their jobs. In addition, internal audits will be less disruptive since work is actually being completed.
3. Review documents and records Ask the persons being interviewed what documents and records are used in their work. You may find documents, records and forms beyond those identified in your audit planning. See if the documents are adequately controlled and available for use. Refer to the documents and records to help you follow the work being shown. Verify the records described in the documents are being properly collected and controlled. Also challenge the need for documentation and always try to find better and more effective ways of managing and controlling the processes being audited.
4. Examine records Auditors cannot interview every person, observe every activity, look at every document, and evaluate every record. You should strive for representative samples that allow you to make informed judgements. Since audits are limited due to sampling, non-conformities may continue to exist in the system beyond those identified and reported. However, with time and well-planned audits you can feel confident that you have thoroughly reviewed your system and its performance.
The full BSI 9001 Auditing Tips PDF brochure can be downloaded here: BSI Brochure
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