TWO AUDIT INSTRUMENTS: PLANNING AND CHECKLIST
How to use checklist during a quality management audit? And what about planning?
Achieving excellence is a primary goal of business and companies around the world. In order to achieve this goal, individuals need to understand how to evaluate quality systems and use auditing as a management tool for fostering ongoing improvement.
Auditing is simply checking the way that things are being done. It is a tool for making sure that activities are being carried out correctly and our business processes are designed in such a way that the customer’s contract requirements are met without relying on just asking people or waiting until it is too late.
The starting place is to prepare a well-appointed strategy that supports audit plans.
Audit faces the risk of expressing an inappropriate opinion owing to:
- performing the wrong audit
- employing the wrong audit approach
- using the wrong staff
- performing work at the wrong time
- issuing the wrong reports
The first essential instrument for a good audit is an audit plan.
The importance of good detailed documentation in the audit plan, actually, cannot be stressed enough. An audit plan will include the following items:
- A description of the business activities
- A schedule of planned audit procedures
- A summary of the evaluation of the records
- A description of special problems to be resolved in the audit
- Deviations from the plan if any, and why the deviations were made
- The results of the audit
- Listing of events/activities occurring during the audit
During the audit preparation phase, the auditing organization must ensure:
- identification of authority: as soon as an audit team is selected, the team must verify its authority to perform the audit. Without a specific authority source that permits an audit, an auditor has no right to perform one
- determination of resources required: once an audit’s purpose, scope and criteria are confirmed, an audit team must be assembled.
Often, a lead auditor has already been selected and has completed some of the planning activities. The audit team leader or the lead auditor usually participates in the selection of audit team members and may help determine the size and composition of the audit team.
Each member of the audit team must be independent of the functions being audited. When selecting an audit team, the auditing organization must determine the number of auditors needed to complete the job. Often, the scope of an audit, the time frame in which it is to be completed and budgetary concerns will determine whether a single auditor or an audit team is needed
- auditor selection: this phase assumes that there is a pool of qualified auditors to choose from. Based on clearly defined qualifications, the audit program manager must select competent auditors
- audit-related documentation: before performing an audit, an auditor must secure documentation of the policies or practices and procedures of a company, so that conformity of a product, process, or system with the requirements specified in the documents may be assessed.
The lead auditor should contact the auditee to determine the availability of documents related to the audit criteria and to request copies or online access
- logistics planning: audit logistical planning is necessary for both audit team coordination and establishing auditee communication links.
Good planning will result in a smooth, seamless audit performance. Auditors need to arrive at the right place at the right time, with the right equipment and information and a suitable duration of time of get the job done right
- auditing tools: preparation of audit checklist. An audit checklist is the primary tool for bringing order to an audit.
A completed checklist provides: objective evidence that an audit was performed, order and organization, a record that all applicable aspects of the quality program were examined, historical information on program, systems or supplier problems, the essence for the exit meeting and audit report, an information base for planning future audits, a vehicle for time management.
The detail plan for each audit may include dates if it is to cover several days but the main substance of the plan will be what is to be audited, against what requirements, and by whom.
At the detail, the specific requirements to be checked should be identified based upon risks, past performance, and when it was last checked.
Audit planning should not be taken lightly. Audit require effort from auditee as well as the auditor so a well-planned audit designed to discover pertinent facts quickly is far better than a rambling audit which jumps from area looking at this or that without any obvious direction.