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Quality Auditing

The internationally recognised ISO 9000 family of standards lays out the key principles of an effective quality management system that satisfies the needs of customers & stakeholders while fulfilling all of the relevant regulatory requirements.

With over 1 million global organisations certified to the standard, trained quality auditing personnel is in high demand across all industries.

Quality auditing courses focus on providing individuals with the knowledge needed to:

  • verify objective evidence of quality processes
  • assess how successfully organisational quality policies have been implemented
  • judge the effectiveness of achieving pre-defined quality targets
  • provide evidence of corrective action

By focusing on these four aspects, quality audits ensure that organisations are able to monitor and enhance the overall effectiveness of their Quality Management Systems (QMS).

ISO 9001 - Framework for Quality Management

ISO 9001 is the standard from the 9000 series that lays out the requirements for a compliant QMS and is the only standard against which organisations can become certified in quality management. Independent certification for ISO 9001 is not a compulsory requirement of the standard, but is highly advantageous. At the same time, regular internal audits are critical to ensuring that the system is working, which is why many organisations employ Lead and Internal Quality Auditors to monitor and report on the effectiveness of the management system at regular intervals.

This process is divided into the following main stages:

  • planning the audit
  • defining audit requirements
  • conducting the audit
  • documenting audit findings
  • suggesting appropriate corrective action

Working as a Quality Auditor

Effective auditors must be independent from the function or department being audited in order to ensure that the audit is conducted in a non-partisan manner. This also prevents conflicts of interest, both on behalf of the auditor and the department being audited. The most effective quality auditors must therefore be equipped with the skill to ask the right questions and maintain a certain degree of independence and autonomy.

In smaller organisations it may be more difficult to find two such impartial figures, which is why one or more external consultants may be needed. Though there is no difference in terms of how these external figures conduct audits, they are able to avoid bias by virtue of the fact that they do not work for the organisation in question on a daily basis.

Audits and the types of auditors responsible for undertaking them can also be split into the following categories:

First party audits
Audits performed by the organisation itself via its permanent staff, i.e. internal audits.

Second party audits
External audits usually performed on suppliers by customers or by others on their behalf with no formal interest in the supplier organisation.

Third party audits
External audits performed by independent organisations including certification bodies or regulators.

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