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Quality Audits

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Quality Standards ISO 9001:2000
Conducting Quality Audits

Internal Quality Audits is a powerful tool for any business to measure the effectiveness of the Quality Management System. It is also a good management tool that can be used to review processes and identify any weaknesses, risks and areas of improvement.

On the Quality Management System sense it is used to assess if a process is working, if things are being done the way they are supposed to be done, however at the same time it is an excellent way of measuring the effectiveness of your procedures.

Audits should be planned on a regular basis so that each activity is audited at least once in the audit cycle.  High risk areas should be audited more often to ensure conformance.  An audit can also be carried out if a particular problem has arisen, to establish the source of the problem and document any corrective actions.

Audits are also used to check any previously identified non-conformances or business changes. A good opportunity to assess how effective the changes have been. 

Quality Auditors:
You don't need to employ specific auditors, it is always best to choose a team of auditors from within the company, your audit team should comprise people from all areas and levels of the company.  Auditor training is always recommended, and a formal auditing method will assist in keeping the audits uniform. 

By choosing a broad spectrum of auditors from all levels of the organisation, you will ensure that everyone has commitment to the Quality System and gain a better understanding of the overall management process of the company.  It is a good way for people from various areas to gain an understanding on how their department fits into the organisation.

It is a pre-requisite that an auditor cannot audit a department or process that they are involved in, for obvious reasons.  It is also best not to use top management as auditors, this way an audit will not be perceived as a personal evaluation or appraisal.  Auditing should be seen as a positive process not as a fault finding exercise. 

The Quality Audit
Audits need to be documented, it is important to remember that you are auditing against the Quality Management System and therefore audits should be constructed against procedures from the Quality Manual.  If it is not in the manual, then it should not be audited.  

During an audit you need to see evidence that the processes are being done in accordance to the procedures and policies.  Evidence should be recorded against each section being audited.  Recording of evidence needs to have a description of the documentation sighted, number, date and any other information that will assist in identifying that document.  

Audit findings need to be documented and any non-conformances found should be reported for further action.  A date should be established for the correction, a follow up audit should be carried out to ensure that the non-conformance has been fixed.

Quality Audit Documentation
Audit documentation does not need to be complicated, normally there are 3 documents:  the audit plan, audit notes and audit report.

The audit plan: The audit plan is sent to the department being audited a few days prior, it should include the date of the audit, the planned time, duration, auditors names, location (if relevant) and the policies and procedures that will be used during the audit.  It should also mention any non-conformances that were found during last audit. (refer sample 1.)

Audit Notes: The notes are the Auditor's questions that will be asked during the audit.  It should include references to particular policies and procedures and what will be asked during the audit.  The same document should be used to record the findings and any comments during the audit.

Audit Report: The audit report is the official document used to report the findings of the audit.  This document should include details of the audit, date, auditors names, policies and procedures and findings against them.  It should include if it passed audit and any non-conformances or observations found.  If non-conformance are found a date should be established for completion of corrective actions.  The audit report is normally signed by the auditor and the department manager. 
(refer sample 2)

The Quality Audit report should be tabled at the next Quality Management Meeting.

Sample 1- Audit Plan

Dept: Marketing Date:1st September 2001
Auditor: Kate Jackson
Policies: 6.1, 5.2.2, 6.2.2,, 8.5, 9.3.2
Procedures: CS-1.2, CS-3.5, FIN-5.4, FIN-4.2, HR-2.5
Notes: Objective is to evaluate the level of customer service being provided and conformance to Quality Assurance Manual.




Sample 2 - Audit Notes/Report

Department: Marketing

Date: 1st July 2002

Auditors: Kate Jackson

Policy/Procedure Conform

6.2.2 All staff members will be assessed for training requirements during annual staff appraisals.

YES Sighted John Smith Appraisal conducted July 2001.  Noted training required on Excel, training conducted in August. Training undertaken by staff will be evaluated for value and  effectiveness.


Training evaluation report for John Smith, excel training held at ABC Training Services, dated 25 August 2001.





Audits can be a positive tool for improving the involvement of all staff in the quality system. 


For further information on the ISO 9001:2000 standards and how they apply to the Quality Management System Click Here

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