Research suggests that many companies are cutting their internal audit budgets.
While it’s great to look for ways to cut costs and remove inefficiencies in the way your business does things, if this isn’t done strategically, you risk cutting corners and facing the repercussions of this.
When your focus is almost entirely on reducing costs, you could actually end up losing more money in the long run than if you’d just invested in solid systems from the beginning.
If you’re certified with one or more ISO standards, a fundamental part of keeping your systems up-to-date and functioning effectively is conducting regular audits. When this isn’t done, cracks inevitably begin to show over time. This could lead to your business losing your ISO certified status you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
This is one of the many reasons why it’s important to invest not only in completing ISO internal audits as required, but also making sure they’re thorough, sufficient and effective. If you’re ISO certified and aren’t sure whether it’s worth allocating funds towards ISO internal audits, this article is for you.
Understanding ISO internal audits
During 2020 and beyond, the Covid pandemic exposed the need for organisations to invest in developing maintainable, lean management systems to support survival and future-proof their profits.
When systems can’t be reviewed and updated with ease, (especially when working remotely) it’s easy for problems to crop up unnoticed and for inefficiencies and a drop in reliability and quality to occur. Poor communication channels and inefficient systems can in turn result in becoming swamped in repetitive and tiresome tasks, causing other business areas to suffer.
Whether you’re looking to get certified with ISO 45001, ISO 9001, ISO 14001 or similar, completing ISO internal audits is crucial in helping you get and stay compliant but more importantly they are the most effective method of checking the health of your business’ systems and correcting and preventing problems before they occur. Done well, (and this is one reason to have a professional, trainer auditor), internal audits are objective, evidence-based reviews of your organisation’s processes and procedures periodically, which allow discrepancies to be addressed swiftly and your organisation to be continuously improving and outstripping your competitors.
Why invest in ISO internal audits?
Before investing in ISO internal audits, you need to know that there is clear value in it for your business. There’s plenty to gain from conducting regular audits, here we’re looking at five of the main benefits that go hand-in-hand with this.
1. Identify gaps and non-conformances
ISO internal audits not only help you pinpoint gaps and areas of non-conformance in your business’ systems, but also assist you in developing a clear, realistic plan for addressing them suitably.
If an organisation’s processes are missing the mark and issues aren’t identified and resolved, the company risks losing their compliant status. What’s more, when systems aren’t up to scratch, companies may fail to meet legislative requirements, which can expose them to costly legal ramifications.
By completing ISO internal audits, organisations can get onto issues early, before they progress and become more serious and costly.
2. Avoid becoming people dependent
If an organisation is people dependent, certain employees can find themselves in a position where fundamental parts of the business rely on them specifically. This puts excessive pressure on individuals and exposes the business to risk if they decide to leave the company or take some time off work.
ISO internal audits help businesses become more process dependent, rather than people dependent. There’s a strong focus on developing solid underlying systems, which not only takes some of the pressure off staff, but also improves efficiencies and protects the business from loss of knowledge should that person leave.
3. Mitigate inefficiencies
A fundamental benefit that comes with regular auditing is the fact that businesses can proactively and effectively determine where any system inefficiencies are and, subsequently, can develop practical and feasible strategies for alleviating these.
By reducing waste and fine-tuning processes, you can save more time, money and resources in the long run.
4. Get and stay compliant with ISO standards
If compliance is important to your business, ISO internal audits are critical. Audits assess your management systems against the requirements of one or more ISO standards, depending on what you’re looking to get compliant with.
Any discrepancies standing between you and getting/ remaining ISO certified are identified and documented, which gives you a better idea of where exactly improvements are needed. If you don’t stay on top of your auditing and, respectively, lose your certified status, getting compliant again will only end up costing you more.
5. An outside view of your company
By having an independent auditor assess your business’ management systems, you can get a fresh perspective on the way you go about things.
This outside perspective is invaluable when it comes to getting your organisation on track to achieving certification. They can bring new ideas and identify potential areas of improvement that may have otherwise been overlooked by those that are familiar with and accustomed to the business’ processes.
How to conduct an ISO internal audit
If you’re looking to conduct an ISO internal audit, it’s a great idea to get in touch with a qualified professional that can guide you every step of the way. Generally speaking though, this is the process followed by auditors:
- Prioritise your audit schedule: It is important that your ISO 9001 systems are practical and make sense for your business. This goes for internal audits too. Ensure you are auditing areas at the frequency that makes sense according to their risk and importance to the business.
- Document review: ensures you have the documented evidence required to back up your compliance, which needs to be confirmed, documented and checked by your internal auditor.
- Process review: the main component of an ISO internal audit is assessing the processes themselves against relevant documentation and ISO standard guidelines. During this stage, any discrepancies and opportunities for improvement are identified, and then a suitable plan for addressing them is constructed.
Speak with an ISO internal auditor
If you think your company could benefit from completing an ISO internal audit, contact our team, who have experience spanning a variety of industries and are available Australia-wide.