Whether you’re looking to get ISO certified, or want to maintain your certified status, completing an ISO audit regularly is a must.
ISO audits tell you whether you’re meeting the ISO compliance requirements and determine weak spots in existing management systems. After discrepancies between current systems and the standard guidelines are pinpointed, an action plan addressing any downfalls can be developed and implemented.
Put your company in the best position to confidently pass upcoming external ISO audits by taking a few proactive steps to prepare beforehand.
How to prepare for your next external ISO audit
1. Review, develop and amend your ISO audit schedule
An audit schedule serves as a clear plan detailing when audits will take place within your organisation.
When creating the schedule, it’s essential to build in flexibility and allow sufficient time for potential setbacks that may arise with certain projects or during problem mitigation. Clearly communicating the audit schedule to your entire team is also vital, as it ensures that all employees are on the same page and prepared.
When prioritising audits and determining their frequency, make sure to consider risk and importance. By identifying high-risk areas or critical processes, you can prioritise audits in specific areas and allocate resources effectively.
A well-planned and comprehensive audit schedule sets the foundation for a successful ISO compliance journey.
2. Review the audit plan provided by the Certification Body or Certifier
Before diving into the intricacies of an external ISO audit, reviewing the audit plan provided by the Certification Body or Certifier will give you confidence that you’re well-prepared and equipped to seamlessly navigate the audit.
This comprehensive plan acts as a roadmap, guiding you through the audit process step-by-step, based on the ISO guidelines.
By thoroughly examining this plan, you can gain valuable insights into which areas are deemed a priority or pose potential risks for your business. Subsequently, you can share any concerns with your auditor and request that they focus their attention on these specific areas during the audit.
3. Preparation is key
The preparation you put in leading up to your external ISO audit will be invaluable when it comes time to assess your management systems.
Trying to get organised in a mad rush when your audit is fast approaching is the last thing you want to do. Chances are, in the hurry of it all, you’ll accidentally miss important areas, leading to non-compliance and dragging out the certification process.
Giving yourself plenty of time to prepare in the weeks and months preceding your ISO audit and letting all relevant individuals within your organisation know to do the same ensures that by the time it rolls around, you know you’ve had time to address any non-conformities and position your company well to pass.
If you’re new to the system, take the time to review the audit plan in detail so you have a sound understanding of all areas to be covered.
As part of your preparation, gather the required documentation and ensure it’s organised and easily accessible for the auditor. For companies using a cloud-based system, this step is incredibly straightforward and seamless, as authorised personnel can readily find and collate documents stored securely in the cloud.
In addition, it’s important to maintain up-to-date records and review documentation regularly, at least within the last 12 months, in each area of the audit. Keep your internal audits and management reviews current, and make sure that your issues register or similar mechanism is being actively used and progressed.
4. Review previous ISO audit reports
As your external ISO audit approaches, looking back at your prior audit reports will help you avoid making the same mistakes again by highlighting challenges you’ve faced previously, while also showing your strengths to give you good context of where your business was at then and where you are now.
By examining past audit reports, you can determine whether there are recurring issues and rethink your approach to mitigating and managing them. Conversely, successful areas can provide a sense of confidence and motivation, reminding you of the aspects where your organisation has excelled and giving insight into what has worked in the past, so you can learn from it and continue to go from strength to strength.
Contact us about preparing you for your external ISO audits
At Integrated Compliance Solutions, we help businesses across Australia maintain ISO certification by ensuring they’re prepared to pass their external ISO audits with flying colours.
When you work with our team, you can approach audits with the reassurance that all of your systems are in order – our healthcheck audit service is designed exactly for this purpose. Contact our consultants to find out more.