Internal Auditing: A Tool for Effective Process Mapping

Internal audits are often scheduled, and therefore conducted according to the ISO 9001:2000 clause structure. Most organizational audit systems start with a formalized checklist where auditors ask questions to ensure employees know their jobs, check for available procedures, and determine if documents and records are being utilized. These audits are mostly focused on judging conformity than evaluating effectiveness. Looking clause by clause, the quality management system may appear conforming, yet be fragmented and ineffective.

Auditors must adopt the process approach and assess the quality management and operational system through its natural workflow. Of course, this requires understanding the business, its processes and the integration of linkages that drives effective auditing and process mapping. Audit planning and interviews should identify for each process:

Inputs: What, when, and from whom?
• Resources: With what people, materials, equipment?
• Methods: How done (procedures and instructions)?
• Controls: How monitored and controlled?
• Measures: What are performance indicators?
• Outputs: What is delivered, when, and to whom?

Auditors should view the quality management system as a set of integrated processes (by understanding the interfaces and interactions). Adopt the process approach for your audits. Add value by looking at more than just conformity. Evaluate the linked processes for their “effectiveness”. Verify their controls and identify any process risks. Also, determine opportunities for improvement. Auditors can promote the process approach through their own audit methods.

Share with us and our readers what method you and your company use to identify and document the Six “Process Based” outcomes identified above.

We will post all examples and discuss best practices next month!

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