Many organizations still consider the process of internal audit as an unnecessary activity without realizing the strength it gives to the foundation of the organization.
Internal audits help organizations to ensure that their business processes and product quality is consistent, allowing them to identify the loopholes and transform them into improvement opportunities. The process basically checks for the conformity of processes as well as products based on the compliance requirements.
Internal audits, unlike the external audits, may not be stringent but are significant to drive a culture of continuous improvement in the organization. The availability of the audit management software has, however, made the entire process easier.
Now you can plan, schedule, execute, and follow-up audits without putting extensive efforts, time, or money. If you really want to invest in the right audit management software, you must ensure that it helps you follow 8 effective steps for a successful Internal audit.
What are those eight steps?
1. Identify the Processes to be Audited
Auditing every single process may not be a viable thing to do for businesses. They need to identify the specific areas whose audit may help the organization to grow in real terms. For example, auditing the financial processes help organizations to ensure that their expenditure is in the right direction.
If an organization will identify the right areas to be audited, they will be making worthy efforts for success – be it planning, scheduling, preparing checklists, executing, and following up the audits. Internal audits are a wonderful tool to drive continuous improvements if used effectively and efficiently. Maintaining clarity right from the start is the core requirement to achieve the desired results.
2. Decide on the Frequency of the Audits
How often you conduct audits in your organization is an important aspect of successful audits that many organizations overlook. It also depends on the areas identified for audits. There might be some processes that require annual audit while some may require half-yearly or quarterly audits to ensure consistent results.
For example, some processes of quality control may require a daily audit while the financial processes may require audits quarterly. As mentioned earlier, there is a need for maintaining clarity about the areas to be audited so that you can make informed decisions about the frequency you need to maintain for each kind of business process. There are many software applications like Qualityze that help you maintain the frequency of every audit in an aligned manner.
3. Plan and Schedule the Audits
The next step in the queue is planning and scheduling the audits. Keeping a plan and schedule ready in advance enables you to avoid the clashes of the processes and unavailability of the right team members required for the audit. An audit plan helps your teams to plan their activities and work accordingly.
On the other hand, scheduling the audits will ensure that no single process or area left unaudited. The feature-packed software like Qualityze Audit Management System Software helps you schedule the entire audit activity in advance to ensure timely-execution, keeping the compliance and operational risks to a minimum. Hence, maintain the timeliness of your audits by planning and scheduling them in advance.
4. Notify the People Involved
It should be a common courtesy to notify all the departments about the upcoming audits so that they can stay prepared with the required documents and other materials such as evidence for the action plans implemented for the reviewer. Until and unless it’s a surprise audit on suspicious activities, your team has all the right to be informed about the organizational activities.
No department shall ever feel afraid of audits or auditors. Keeping them informed also helps develop an understanding of the value of the audit processes for the continued success of the organization. The next-generation software comes with in-built capability such as notifications so that you can inform all your employees at once.
5. Prepare the Audit Checklist and Execute Audit
Through preparing the audit checklist is an important activity of auditors, but it is quite important to ensure the right questions are asked to the right people at the right time. A checklist usually contains the process-related questions from the team members involved to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to maintaining quality and brand reputation.
The good news for auditors is that there are software that comes with pre-defined audit checklists based on industry best-practices and compliance standards. You can further edit these checklists according to the practices and workflows of your organization and execute the audit.
6. Record and Analyze Audit Findings
Once the audit is performed, the next immediate thing you need to do is recording the audit findings to understand the processes working fine and the ones that require improvements. Audit findings are nothing but the insights on the quality and consistency maintained within the organization to ensure product quality.
After documenting the audit findings, you can perform analysis to identify the areas that need immediate attention versus the ones that can be reviewed and corrected after a while. However, you can efficiently perform these functions with the use of audit management software.
7. Investigate to Develop and Implement Action Plans
The improvement areas identified in the audit findings shall be investigated to determine the root cause and develop an action plan accordingly. The Investigation, Development of Action Plan, and Implementation depend on the risk severity of the issues identified.
No matter which methodology you use for the root cause investigation, make sure you perform it thoroughly since you cannot afford the recurrences of the quality issues that may lead to overhead expenses including the product rework and recalls.
8. Perform the Effectiveness Review and Audit Follow-Ups
Last but not the least, effectiveness review and audit follow-up are as important as scheduling and performing the audits since it helps you to measure the degree of effectiveness of an action plan. On the other hand, following-up work like a reminder for the audit activities that required immediate attention.
A software can that can help you perform all the eight steps with utmost ease and convenience is a worthy investment to make. You don’t need to waste time, efforts, and resources in the traditional audit practices anymore.
So, get a robust audit management software because businesses achieve success only when they maintain consistency in the product quality, process quality, and continuous improvements. A streamlined and standardized audit process ensures that compliance standards and industry best practices are followed.
Make sure you make the best of your internal audit tool to ensure you are delivering your customers’ needs every time!