Understanding Internal Audits

What is an internal audit?

An internal audit examines the operation of your management system. This provides top level management with the information needed to ascertain whether the system is operating effectively or if any changes need to be made.

What is the difference between an internal and external audit?

An internal audit is performed within the organisation by auditors who are employed by the organisation, but who have no vested interest in the audit results of the area being audited.

An external audit can either be an audit carried out by an interested third party, such as the customers of a supplier or be an audit carried out by an independent, third party, audit organisation this is free of any conflict of interest. External audits like this typically result in certification, registration, verification, etc.

What is the purpose of the internal audit?

For Organisations with a Management System in place, the internal audit serves several purposes:

  • Ensuring adherence to the procedures – the auditor should look to ensure that the organisation is complies with its own procedures. That is the main purpose of the audit.
  • Ensuring the effectiveness of the system – the auditor should look at all processes, reviewing the value of each process, and ensure that the procedures still meet the organisation’s objectives.
  • Providing information for management reviews – the results of audits should be documented so that they can be reviewed and analysed, providing information for use in corrective action programmes and management reviews.
  • Identifying opportunities for improvement – the auditor should, with the responsible person, examine documented evidence against the Management System that is relevant to the function or department being audited. This could include staff competency, qualifications or training. Problems should be discussed with the auditee and corrective/preventive actions should be record.
  • Driving continual improvement – the auditor needs to follow up and verify that any corrective actions have been completed by the agreed date.

When should internal audits be carried out?

Organisations with a certified Management System should conduct internal audits at planned intervals throughout the year. This will enable you to regularly determine whether the system in question conforms to the requirements of the Standard, the processes and procedures detailed within your Management System Manual, and is effectively implemented and maintained.

Further Information

If you require any further information regarding your Internal Audit, this video tutorial will guide you through the process.

You can also speak to one of our friendly, experienced Consultants by calling 0333 344 3646 or emailing enquiries@qmsuk.com.