ISO Internal Audit Checklist to Follow for Successful Certification

An internal audit is an indispensable part of the ISO certification process where professional assessors check and review the concerned management system meticulously to ensure its compliance with a given ISO standard. In other words, internal auditing reveals the preparedness of your organization’s management system for a certification and how effective it is. To perform your audit smoothly you need to follow a checklist. The ISO internal audit checklist is prepared by adhering to certain principles such as fair presentation, using an evidence-based approach, and maintaining ethical conduct and professionalism. Auditing is based on these key principles to make sure the assessment is effective, objective and honest, and adds value to the organization’s management system. The key purpose of conducting an audit is to help the organization understand where their system fails to comply with the ISO requirements and act to improve it.

If an ISO certification is planned for your company and you are worried about conducting the audit of your management system, here is a brief checklist to help in the preparations for the audit.

Brief Presentation of ISO Internal Audit Checklist to Help You in the Certification Preparedness

You need to evaluate the management system thoroughly with respect to the following points and find answers or explanations to each.

1. Context of the Organization

You need to verify whether your organization’s processes, internal and external issues, as well as expectations of the different associated parties (stakeholders) are in line with the purpose of your management system. For instance, if your Quality Management System (QMS) is to be certified with ISO 9001, you need to ensure whether your specific quality control procedures and customers’ quality expectations are addressed by the QMS. This also means you need to define the scope of the management system considering the context i.e., processes, objectives, stakeholders’ interests, challenges, and products/services of your organization.

2. Support & Leadership by Management Team

The ISO certification requires you to implement a management system or improve your existing management system. No form of change in your organization is possible without the participation, commitment, and encouragement of the leaders. Therefore, confirm whether the top-tier management has demonstrated their leadership in implementing or improving the management system by taking accountability. They should in fact initiate the change process by determining a policy and a set of objectives.

The management leaders should also ensure that the system works integrates well with your business processes and is intended to deliver the desired outcomes. Another crucial responsibility that falls under the leadership of the management team is incorporating a process-based approach to make the management system as efficient as possible. Communicating and interpreting the policy and objectives to employees is also the role of the management team. For that, they should properly document the policy and objectives and make them available to everyone.

3. Addressing Risks and Utilizing Opportunities

You need to verify whether there are any appropriate processes or methods to discover the risks as well as uncover the opportunities in your business. The management system should address those risks and turn the opportunities into valuable decisions for improvement in your business.

You should also verify whether your organization has a planned approach to address the risks or opportunities identified. Planning for changes is a crucial requirement and that takes you to the next point of the checklist, i.e., whether there are enough resources in your organization to execute the actions needed for preventing risks and harnessing the opportunities.

4. Availability of Resources

This is the general and most obvious part of the checklist. You need to assure that your organization has arranged or determined the resources that are necessary for implementing, operating, and sustaining the management system. While arranging resources, you also should consider whether they are internally available or are to be externally sourced, and what are their capabilities and/or constraints. Resources not only mean physical resources, infrastructure, and capital, but also people. They should be adequately trained so that they understand the processes of the management system and can carry them out.

5. Operational Planning

You need to verify how your organization is going to implement and interact with the management system to achieve the determined objectives and purpose. At this stage, you should also determine how process controls, documented information, outsourced processes, compliance with regulatory requirements, and planned changes should be managed to ensure the interests of your business’s stakeholders are met.

6. Monitoring and Performance Analysis

You need to have proper methodologies and tools to monitor and evaluate the performance of the management system. For that, you should also determine the performance metrics or KPIs that are relevant to the processes and outcomes of the system. Analyzing and measuring the KPIs at frequent intervals will help to know the competence of your management system. For instance, for the QMS, customer complaints and product recalls are important KPIs and if they are observed to be reduced with time, then it means the QMS is effective in satisfying the customers by reducing quality issues.

A management review is a key method for evaluating and analyzing the performance of the management system. Selected officials from the management team should check the system thoroughly and present their findings in a comprehensive report.

7. Remedying and Corrective Action

Reviewing of the management system is going to reveal the areas in the management system that are not conforming to the ISO standard’s requirements or are running inefficiently. Therefore, it is necessary for you to have a planned approach to address the nonconformities and discrepancies discovered. You should know how to respond to every issue with corrective actions. You should also have appropriate measures to evaluate the root causes of the issues, including nonconformities, and implement necessary remedial actions to eliminate the causes. Also, there should be a way for you to later find out the effectiveness of actions taken to improve the management system.

8. Approach for Continual Improvement

Your organization should verify that it has a continuous and recurring cycle for improvement to make the management system more capable of addressing the scope and objectives. The PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle is often considered for continual improvement. Also, make sure you always consider the results and analyses of the management reviews to come across any possible opportunity, addressing which can enhance the management system.

Key Takeaway!

The ISO internal audit checklist is created by incorporating the requirements of the particular certification standard. Therefore, skipping any point of the checklist is not acceptable and can make your management system non-compliant. Also, a majority of the points in the checklist are framed as a question.

No matter what ISO standard you are going to achieve for your business, following this checklist can assure your certification success. You must attach evidence to prove that you have addressed each point and hence, remember to take note of your actions as you complete each step.

Need help with your audit procedure for ISO certification? Get in touch with Compliancehelp Consulting LLC. We are a team of ISO consultants and auditors who can assist you in certification preparation, including audits, and get your organization certified successfully.