Are your internal audits effective?

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When I first commenced conducting internal audits over ten years ago, I was working for a state-based law enforcement organisation. The position of internal auditor was challenging due to the rank and position I held. I had barriers and challenges in connecting with and gaining access to various areas and members of the leadership teams.

There would be days I would dread going to the office, putting off scheduling meetings or making attempts to plan for audits. It made the role quite challenging as I felt my way. Often, I felt completely out of my depth.

With time and experience I began to see that what was missing was implementation of a defined audit process, which ensured all audits were conducted against agreed criteria and any actionable audit findings were based on evidence.

Over the years I have come to realise that my initial experiences were not unique. New students and clients continue to share their similar stories. If this resonates with your own experience, here are some simple steps you may like to consider to turn your audit activities into an effective and meaningful practice, that enhances the management systems in your workplace.

  1. Check that your workplace has a current internal audit process formalised. Ensure it clearly communicates an audit process that adopts an evidenced-based approach.
  2. Ensure that every audit is conducted against a set of criteria. This may include policy, procedure, contract agreement, or standard. If an audit isn’t based on criteria, you can’t conduct an objective audit.
  3. Establish the audit objective with management and auditee in advance. Most organisations are conducting internal audits to ensure compliance and maintain management systems. Often this information is not communicated throughout the organisation, resulting in unnecessary stress or frustration for auditees.
  4. Educate and support colleagues to ensure the understand their role in the audit process. Auditing is not about the people, it’s about assessing the effectiveness of the systems and processes.

If you are seeking to review your internal audit process, an excellent resource is the ISO 19011 auditing management systems guideline which provides an excellent framework that any organisation could adopt and modify to suit.

Alternatively, join us or send your colleagues to attend our accredited 2-day Management System Auditing course and we will walk you through the process.

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