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How do you phrase your internal audit questions?

#1
We have audit checklists that have pretty specific questions to make sure we're hitting every required point of the QMS, which I suppose is standard practice.
What I understand is that this checklist should be used more as a guide to your internal audits and that asking an auditee a broad question can answer multiple points.
For example, "Can you explain your process from start to finish" can usually get me answers for "Is there an established process?" "Are reviews performed at suitable stages?" "How is XYZ verified?" etc. Then I would ask more questions if I feel like I need more details (who, what when where, why or "can I get a copy of this?").

My partner, on the other hand, just reads off the checklist and to me it sounds very technical. Answers tend to overlap so sometimes it sounds repetitive, too. I suppose it's not technically wrong to do this, but I feel like it might come off a bit as an interrogation and the questions too closed-ended.

How do you ask your questions and how does your checklist look like?
 
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Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#2
An internal audit should not be an inquisition, and (imo, of course) a checklist should be used only as a mnemonic device--to provide reminders of what needs to be done. There should never be a time when an internal auditor asks an auditee to explain an entire process. Auditors should be reasonably familiar with processes before auditing. The first stage should be to gather the relevant documentation and review it, then observe the process in operation. Sometimes audits may be completed without talking to anyone. Anyone who asks prepared questions from a checklist probably needs training.
 
#3
An internal audit should not be an inquisition, and (imo, of course) a checklist should be used only as a mnemonic device--to provide reminders of what needs to be done. There should never be a time when an internal auditor asks an auditee to explain an entire process. Auditors should be reasonably familiar with processes before auditing. The first stage should be to gather the relevant documentation and review it, then observe the process in operation. Sometimes audits may be completed without talking to anyone. Anyone who asks prepared questions from a checklist probably needs training.
Thanks for your reply! I liked your phrasing.

We're both pretty new at this so all advice is welcome. We're still learning how the company itself runs.
Also, since I started a few months ago I've noticed some of the procedures/work instructions/forms are outdated, so asking people to walk me through what they're doing that day helps me see how accurate the documents are and address it with the managers. I figured once I see how things are done, future audits would be easier to perform.
Is this a good way to go about it, or should I try something else?
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#4
There's nothing wrong with asking for help, especially if you're relatively new to the company. You should do everything you can to get people to understand that you're there to help, and not to give quizzes.
 
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