The Importance of Internal Audit

Within the requirements of a quality management system based on the ISO 9001 standard, there are several focused on continuous improvement, that is the case of internal audit.

A common mistake is to see internal audit as an examination of personnel or the processes to take corrective actions in case they have done something wrong, this causes personnel to become nervous and reluctant to provide information when carrying out the internal audit.

We must see internal audit as a continuous improvement tool whose sole purpose is to improve the performance of all processes of the company and not take retaliation against staff for not having performed any activity correctly.

The simple fact of conducting an internal audit, even informally, will give you a broad overview of how you are carrying out all your processes and if you should correct or improve some.

Below I list several aspects in which the internal audit will help you and why it is so important in a quality management system.

1- It helps you to ensure compliance with requirements and increases customer satisfaction.

When I talk about requirements, I am not only referring to those included in the ISO 9001 standard, so our quality management system is complete we must focus on various types of requirements :

  • Customer requirements
    • In the end these are the most important, remember that customer satisfaction is measured according to the fulfillment of their requirements and this is the main objective of a quality management system.
    • Some examples of customer requirements can be, delivery time, requested quantities of product, colors, etc.
  • Legal or regulatory requirements
    • This includes all the requirements that by law must be met in companies as well as international and national standards according to their line of business.
    • These include the laws of workers, taxes and standards such as ISO 9001
  • Requirements of the organization
    • These requirements are all the policies and processes established by the organization itself for control that no other regulations require.
    • They can be discount policies, policies on the use of vehicles, clothing, etc.

2- In the Internal Audit, Opportunities for Improvement are detected. 

It is not very common that the staff themselves can visualize how their process can be improved since they are generally so immersed in the activities that there’s no time to analyze them in search of improvements.

Since one of the principles of internal auditing is that it’s carried out by personnel outside the process that is being audited, the activities can be observed from another point of view and it’s more likely to detect opportunities for improvement and apply preventive actions.

3- In the Internal Audit training needs are detected

Generally the internal audit is frowned upon by the staff in general since it’s taken as an examination and there is the fear of being reprimanded in case of finding any non-conformity, it’s very important to transmit that what is sought is to improve the process and if something went wrong perhaps it was because the staff were not even well trained to carry out the activities, which is not their fault.

This is more common than you think, in this sense, attention should be directed to Human Resources and to be able to improve the induction and training process of the personnel and it can be ensured that the personnel is suitable to carry out the assigned activities.

4- Reliable Information is Provided to Top Management

Due to the fact that the internal audit process has to comply with certain principles in accordance with the provisions of the ISO 9001 Standard, such as that staff cannot audit their own work, it must be based on the obtaining evidence, taking professional care, etc. you can ensure that the audit reports presented to top management will be objective.

This gives top management confidence in decision making and in the quality management system itself.

These are just some of the reasons why internal auditing is so important to ISO 9001, when you start to carry it out in your organization you will realize that there are still many more.

Something that can help you have more confidence that you are complying with the regulatory requirements is the use of specialized software with which you will have the ability to control all the processes of your company in an easy way.

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