Top 5 Strategies to Improve Your Internal Quality Audit Score
Internal quality audits are an essential requirement for achieving regulatory compliance and standard compliance such as ISO 9001. A business must continuously audit its quality management framework or system to ensure that it is competent and conforms to the applicable regulations. They must make audits a regular tool to foster improvements in their business. Another crucial reason for conducting such internal assessments is that they prepare you for future external audits to be performed by a certification body or regulatory authority. Therefore, it is the best way to find out the compliance gaps in your quality system before they are discovered by the external party. Whether you are concerned about enhancing your quality performance or regulatory compliance, this blog can provide you with strategies to improve your internal audit score. Read the following section to know how to plan for audits, improve the audit performance, and drive improvements in your business and quality aspects.
Strategies to Improve Your Internal Audit Score and Make Audits Advantageous for Your Business
The below points explain the best ways you can get the maximum benefit from your audit procedures.
Groundwork and Preparations
The first step is laying the groundwork for a successful internal quality audit which includes conscious planning and preparation for the audit procedure. You need to first determine the areas in your business and processes that should be evaluated during the audit. This also means determining the employees who will be interacting with the quality system and their roles/tasks that need to be examined. Other key things that you need to have ready before the audit procedure begins are documents of various processes and quality management practices, written quality policy, records of team/staff training, and reports of earlier audits (if any conducted).
Decide a Sound Procedure
After planning, you need to decide on an effective methodical procedure to conduct the audit. First, you are required to decide a schedule of your audit i.e., when to start the procedure and for how long it will take place. Other things that you need to consider are:
• Do you have trained auditors to perform the audit procedure efficiently, or do you need to hire professional internal auditors from a third-party agency?
• What are the methods you will use to record the findings of the audit?
• How will you apply the suggestions of auditors to your quality management framework?
• How will you implement the corrective actions for the nonconformities or compliance gaps identified in the framework?
• How will you encourage the participation of your organization’s management team in the internal audit procedure and make their plan for further improvements in the business?
Get a Team of Auditors
Whether your organization has appointed internal auditors from its employee base or you need to hire third-party professionals, make sure to invest in the right team. Novice auditors may undertake the audit procedure inefficiently and can easily reduce its credibility by being uninformed, negligent, or incompetent. Hence, choosing the right skillful auditors is the first step to making your audit procedure effective. The personnel selected for the audit procedure must be honest, ethical, observant, flexible, and decisive and also have proper communication skills. Some of the key techniques that you can use to train the personnel to become competent at the audit procedure are conducting mock audits, providing an audit checklist, and induction on regulatory requirements.
Assure You Conduct the Audit Independently
To make your audit procedure effective and value-adding for your business, make sure it is conducted independently. This means the quality audits should be performed by expert individuals, who otherwise do not have any direct link with the processes or areas that are to be audited. In simple words, the auditors should not be auditing their job or work processes. An independent audit also means that the auditors are provided with enough freedom or scope to discover the nonconformities and suggest the right remedies for fixing them.
Use of the Audit Findings Purposely
The last key strategy to get the most out of your quality audit procedure is following up on the audit report, conducting a management review, and discussing the next actions. Hence, for this step, make sure that you prepare comprehensive audit reports that clearly specify the inadequacies, weak points, or nonconformities in your quality system. The reports would be then evaluated by the management team who are directly responsible for the matters of quality in the business. The results or observations from the audits should be acknowledged and necessary measures should be taken to improve the quality system and make it compliant as well as efficient.
If improving quality and ensuring higher satisfaction of customers is a prime goal of your business, there must be a quality management program. However, you need to regularly audit it along with your routine processes to make sure that the quality of your products/services is continually improved. Audits also help you identify the processes or areas whose efficiency can be further improved. All in all, audits are improvement tools that add value to your organization by making your quality system competent and compliant. If you have scheduled an audit for improving your quality assurance, then do not forget to follow these strategies to improve your internal audit score. Gaining maximum benefits for your business out of the audit procedure should be the goal besides assuring regulatory compliance of your quality system.
If your organization wants an internal quality audit for achieving certification or to improve the quality performance of your business, you can contact our team of trained auditors at Compliancehelp Consulting LLC. We are professionals and can assure the best results out of your audit procedure.