Auditing ISO 9001: Reasons and How to Do It

Professionals and entrepreneurs intending to setup for the long haul appreciate that remaining indefinitely viable means being unwavering in serving up quality to secure customer trust and create an outstanding reputation with all stakeholders in the ecosphere.

To achieve this however, they won’t have to re-invent the wheel and adopt a method of trial and error to see what works and what measures to shelve. Instead, they can tread the path of success stories world over who adopted guidelines by ISO on a high standard administration and received accreditation by a Registrar after auditing ISO 9001 standard implementation by stewards of the firm.

What is the ISO 9001 Standard?

A recognized authority for establishing good governance, ISO (short for ‘International Organization for Standards’) is headquartered in Switzerland and has country based standard firms in almost 150 nations which are approached to administer and check the enactment of global top practices in organized concerns.

The 9000 group, with the 9001 section (most popular one) in particular, deal with Quality Management Systems (QMS) so dependable top performance is delivered every time by entities that use this methodology. As a matter of fact, companies can only get formal accreditation of the latter section alone as proof of their adherence.

What this accreditation says to interested parties around the organization, on top of its pledge to a dependable level of quality is:

  • All laws and regulations affecting the concern are observed
  • A strict scheme of managing levels of quality is in effect
  • Best practices are applied that create excellent value for money in all operations and
  • Proper records along with a transparent and fair framework are enacted by relevant caretakers of the concern.

Reasons for Auditing ISO 9001 Standard Implementation

Post set-up of the system, an investigation for checking the live process against the authorized guide is vital to highlight anything missed out or any areas of trouble. Basically, a compliance audit is carried out to ensure the enactment has been fruitful in letter and in spirit.

However, the auditor does not only examine policies and systems against the ISO 9001 official book. Another purpose for auditing ISO 9001 standard implementation is to flag parts where there maybe resistance or conflict to the new change. This is most often presented by staff who do not comprehend or fear deviations from the old way of doing things.

Leading a review and assuming corrective measures lessens the odds that during accreditation, concerned official may raise objections and curtails the risk of failing the process.

Ideal Times for Audit

Most experts recommend carrying out the audit activity at least twice;

  • The first 2-3 months after the system has been live &
  • Another immediately before application to accrediting body to gain approval.

The auditing of ISO 9001 standard implementation may be carried out by in house auditor team or by an independent third party, though this is not required.

The first audit is most helpful as it reflects any shortfalls or problem areas for the change leaders to take remedial measures for. Only after all course correction has been affected should the top brass think of inviting officials for certification. Ideally, another compliance check ought to be carried out before the registrar steps into the picture so that there is least amount of risk for an adverse report.

Audit Methodology

  1. Gain knowledge of ISO 9001 standard

Before the first step is taken towards auditing ISO 9001 standard implementation, the audit staff should be well-versed in the nitties and gritties of the scheme as well as common pitfalls that organizations face during the infancy of the program. This helps to target risk areas and prepare the auditors to identify problems when faced with them.

  • Review of management’s road map for implementation & level of involvement

The introduction of quality system requires serious commitment be top officials which can be demonstrated by a well-thought-out strategic document outlining what order to adopt, resources to commit and time frame along with designating a high-level lead for overseeing the project’s progress.

Their degree of support and oversight will be evidenced by the sign-off on periodic reports and the tick off of items on the road map envisioned at the beginning.

  • Support of staff education and change management procedures

Appropriate trainings for all levels of workforce as well as open lines of communication in resolving any potential queries or dissatisfaction with the system change is crucial for positive adoption. Change management processes include incentives for on-boarding such as points in performance metrics and encouraging approval by setting the right tone at the top.

  • Examination of documentation prepared during execution phase

Part of the requirements of QMS is consistent and comprehensive documentation of operations. The audit staff will go through these and check them for completeness and appropriate filing by relevant staff.

  • Investigation of policies and procedures in action

Fundamentally the risky areas will be examined first and then the rest of the setup will be reviewed for operating in-line with the requirements set out by the ISO. The workforce will also be interviewed to confirm they understand the new system and are aware of its requirements of constant progress.

  • Prepare report of findings with actionable steps for betterment

Comprehensive report at the conclusion of the investigation of the good, the bad and the areas that could be uplifted for top-management’s review. To make the report more worthwhile, it would include action points so that project lead can solve the issues reported quickly and efficiently.

  • In case of second audit, review system to assess progress on preliminary findings

Logically, this is what follows a first audit since the team has already carried out a comprehensive initial audit. However, this does not imply other key areas are to be ignored. A smart review with corrective actions before certifying body representative is invited would make the whole process sweet and painless as possible.

The scope of auditing ISO 9001 Standard Implementation can be different for organizations in different industries and in varying stages of their life cycle. Regardless, the main steps remain the same for providing assurance to management on their execution endeavor of international standards.

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