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Before the Audit is After the Audit

June 8th, 2022 | by
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In many fields, audits are part of everyday work. As soon as management systems are to be implemented, further developed or certified, one is inevitably confronted with this term. We previously reported on our last audit and our associated (re-)certification here at the blog as well. But what are audits exactly, why do they exist and how are they carried out? In our article, we will explain in detail what they are all about.

What is an audit?

The term audit comes from the Latin verb “audire”, which means “to hear” or “to listen”. An audit is a testing procedure that examines whether processes, guidelines and requirements meet the required standards within a company. The subject of an audit can be, for example, the quality of management systems and information technology. This test procedure is usually carried out as part of a quality management system.

There are different types of audits, such as internal and external audits. In an internal audit, management systems are reviewed by the company itself. In an external audit, on the other hand, the procedure is carried out by outsiders, such as customers or independent certification authorities. A distinction is also made between process and system audits. Process audits examine whether the existing processes are working and how they can be further improved, if necessary. These are carried out internally. System audits look at the system as a whole. The effectiveness of the entire management system is examined. System audits are performed externally by an independent auditor.

Audits are quality assurance measures that are used in all common management systems. One of the best-known quality management systems is ISO 9001, which defines the basic structures for a functioning management system in order to continuously improve the quality of the company’s products and services. To achieve this in the long term, the management system is subject to a continuous improvement process.

Why are audits carried out?

The goal of any company offering a product or service is to maximize its customer satisfaction. To achieve this goal, each management system defines quality standards and objectives. Uniform processes enable these standards and objectives to be put into practice. Process audits examine whether the processes are suitable for meeting the defined objectives.

This involves comparing the current state of the company or organization with the original objectives. The audit procedure compares, for example, which specific objectives have been achieved or missed. Processes can then be checked for their suitability and functionality and, if necessary, adapted and improved. System audits are not limited to individual processes, but look at the entirety of processes, objectives and quality standards – in other words, the quality management system. Both types of audits provide the company or organization with a clear framework for continuous self-assessment and improvement and support the achievement of defined goals.

How is an audit carried out?

External audits are performed by a trained, independent auditor. The procedure is carried out using predefined test points and standardized checklists. A quality audit is basically divided into the following four phases. The first phase is the general preparation for the audit. For example, an audit plan is drawn up. This is followed by the execution of the audit. The execution is based on the previously created audit plan. An audit report is then written. This report documents the performance of the audit. The report contains, for example, a detailed protocol of the audit. In the final phase, the audit documentation is followed up and is intended to support the development of further improvement measures. After all, after the audit is always before the audit!

One of the basic principles of quality management is continuous improvement. This is where you can help us, too! Do you have any comments, questions or wishes?
Feel free to leave us a comment or contact the IT-ServiceDesk. We are looking forward to your feedback!

 

Responsible for the content of this article are Stéphanie Bauens and Niklas Kunstleben.

 

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