This internal audit scheduling and planning tool helps ensure you never miss an important internal audit again.
What makes an internal audit so valuable for management systems, and why is it crucial for every business?
It is common practice for businesses to conduct internal audits solely to satisfy the certification board. But internal audits can do more than that.
Why is Internal Audit So Important?
Internal audits typically find a handful of inconsistencies. But they don’t go into the systemic issues plaguing the company’s management. It’s a shame that businesses are squandering the efforts of their internal auditors. They deserve some benefit from the time and money spent on audits.
1. Uncover Problems and Inefficiencies
The purpose of conducting internal audits is to unearth issues that could be detrimental to the company if left unnoticed. Let’s face it; we are all fallible. Therefore a perfect system is impossible to achieve.
What is feasible, though, is an ever-improving system that can learn from its blunders and grow as a result. Internal audits play a significant role in this kind of setup.
According to ISO 19011, an internal audit is “conducted by, or on behalf of, the organization itself for management review and other internal purposes.”
It inspects a business’s operations by its staff members or an external party hired by the company to conduct the audit.
An audit is a methodical, objective, and well-documented procedure determining whether or not an organisation meets set criteria.
The criteria can be procedures, requirements, or policies, while evidence for compliance can include verifiable records and statements relevant to the audit criteria.
2. Ensure Process Compliance
Internal audits ensure the organisation follows its processes. There are regular audits of the organisation’s operations conducted throughout the year. They’re associated with finding and evaluating threats and setting up safeguards.
Audits are standardised procedures that conform to established standards. Certification to ISO standards is optional but requires regular audits to ensure ongoing compliance.
Compliance audits determine how well a company is adhering to external financial, technical, safety, and environmental requirements. Compliance auditing missions may look into several different regulations.
3. Aid in Digital Transformation
Research has highlighted the importance of internal audits in digital transformation.
As businesses undergo digital change, internal audits will play a more prominent role in ensuring that new technologies do not pose unnecessary hazards to the company. Considering the widespread efforts to modernise businesses, this should be a boon for the internal audit.
4. Improve Management System
The results of an internal audit can help fine-tune the operation of your business’s systems.
The auditor’s vantage point provides a unique opportunity for insight into how you can strengthen the system. And because of this advanced comprehension, they are better equipped to assist in fixing these issues.
What are the Internal Audit Requirements for ISO Standards?
Modern releases of ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001, ISO 22301, ISO 13485, and IATF 16949 share very similar internal auditing standards:
- 1. Scheduled internal audits should be conducted regularly, with an annual audit covering all areas of your management system.
- 2. The auditor will look at your own rules, methods, and other records to see if your operations align with the standard.
- 3. The auditor must also verify the system’s upkeep by verifying the accuracy and completeness of all paperwork, regularly monitoring key performance indicators, and implementing any necessary corrective actions.
- 4. The company is responsible for creating the audit program.
- 5. The company determines which areas, procedures, or operations the auditor will examine during the audit. Standard practice dictates that the audit addresses your management system’s full scope within one calendar year.
- 6. The audit criteria must also be established, specifying the requirements against which the auditor will evaluate the management system. During a typical audit, the auditor will assess your management system against the standard, your documentation, and the specifications of an external party.
- 7. If an auditor works in Department A, he is allowed to audit all other Departments. But a different auditor must audit Department A to avoid a conflict of interest.
- 8. The auditor is responsible for drafting and delivering the audit report to management.
What Should Be Included in an Audit Plan?
Following the guidelines laid out by ISO, you must create an audit plan that includes the following sections:
- 1. For which period you’re planning the audits: It’s usually a course of one year, but sometimes three.
- 2. The audit scope: You may only need one annual audit covering your entire management system if you have a small business. You may want to schedule ten audits yearly if you run a medium-sized company with ten key divisions.
- 3. The audit criteria and objectives: Your audit criteria may include the ISO standard, your paperwork, and the requirements of third parties for your management system. Auditors commonly refer to these evaluation standards as “audit objectives,” such as “the internal audit objective is to assess the system’s conformity with ISO 27001.”
- 4. What methods will you employ during the audit: They will generally consist of reading relevant material, conducting interviews with appropriate personnel, and observing relevant operations.
- 5. Finally, who exactly is going to do the audit? Will it be one individual or a team? Is there going to be more than one person working together?
It’s crucial to prioritise the areas of your business with the most substantial risk and immense value to your management system as you develop your audit plan. Some parts you might examine in detail, for instance, during an ISO 27001 audit, are:
- 1. The IT manager, as the one accountable for establishing and maintaining the information security system’s technological controls
- 2. The client database, as recognised in the risk analysis with the most sensitive data repository
- 3. The salespeople, as workers entrusted with private information, including customer and financial data
Also consider the outcomes of previous audits. For example, if you audited each of your ten departments last year and determined that Department 3 had the most nonconformities, you might elect to audit it many times. Or run a single audit with more stringent standards than those performed for the other departments.
How Often Should Internal Audits Be Performed?
Management systems like ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and OHSAS 18001 require internal audits at planned intervals, but they don’t specify a frequency or require all processes to have an annual internal audit. Thus, businesses must choose a suitable frequency.
How often should internal compliance audits occur? Audits can occur monthly, quarterly, biannually, or yearly. Before deciding on an internal audit schedule, it’s necessary to understand the criteria.
1. Process Complexity
- Audit high-risk or critical procedures quarterly or twice a year.
- Audit low-risk procedures annually or biannually.
2. Processes Maturity
- A once-yearly or biennial audit is sufficient for well-established, smoothly-running systems.
- Conduct audits of newly developed processes more regularly (quarterly, for example) until they reach stability.
3. Past Audits
- There should be more frequent audits of processes with a record of defects or non-conformities, at least once per quarter or twice a year.
- Conduct audits more frequently on procedures that are having problems meeting goals and objectives, say once every quarter or twice a year.
Additionally, the following may affect the regularity of audits:
- Planning funds for conducting internal audits
- Guidelines set by authorities or demands from customers
It is unnecessary to perform all internal audits at once. You can space them out over the year and focus on specific procedures. Auditing many processes at once can be taxing, and it’s easy to miss flaws or opportunities for improvement.
Auditing all processes annually are not required by most standards, yet it is a typical practice among many businesses. Instead of scheduling audits annually, certain companies with well-established management systems may choose to do it over three years.
Each company must examine its procedures, management structures, and regulatory mandates to develop a feasible schedule tailored to its specific context.
Never miss an internal audit again with FocusIMS’ new feature.
- Go to Manage Lists.
- Choose Risk Management.
- Click Audit Types.
- Indicate your desired schedule under Frequency in Days. 365 days is once a year.
- Hit Submit.
You may find overdue and due soon audits if you go to the Risk Alerts section. You can also see the last and next audit dates.
Update your procedure to reflect this new and helpful feature. Go to System > Internal Documents List > Internal Audit Procedure. Or contact us, and we’ll do this part for you.