Internal Audit Check List that Parallels the Standard?


George Trybulski

I have a check list for internal audits that was developed by our previous Quality Manager, but it "relates" too closely to our procedures "verbadum". I need to "steal" from someone out there. Does anyone have a check list that parallels the standard that I can have ? It would be very appreciated.
George T.

David Mullins

I do, and as soon as my e-mail is working again I'll send it.

WORD OF WARNING. What you describe is also know as "gap analysis", a useful tool when determining gaps in the system during the stages of QMS development and implementation, and also useful for desk-top/system/adequacy audits where you are only looking at compliance to the standard. For internal (compliance) audits however you also need to determine compliance to your procedures, which from a 'meaningful' point of view is more appropriate than compliance to the standard.


Steven Truchon

My company used checklists before I started. Based on the reviews of the IAR's, I found a bit of redundancy that seemed wasteful. I have found that printing the primary procedure and any direct link procedures, I can more easily coordinate the trails I tend to find, which can lead to other Sections temporarily. Since I know that my Quality System Manual meets the QS standard, and my Procedures meet my Quality System Manual, I want to focus on the Procedural level but with the procedures right there as a continual reference as I stated. I am always mindful of the standard requirements as I proceed however, just in case I do find an opportunity.
I also like to take 3 complete vertical audits annually. With this I will track a job through each and every step from Quote to Acceptance by the customer. I find that this will expose weaknesses I usually will not find in a direct Section audit. My "checklist" for this comes specifically from our system and its rare that I can deviate from the track I am on.
Back to the checklist, I tend to have a general idea of what I want to look at and not get too specific via a list. It works well for me and for our system.


I have been looking high and low for an example of what you call a "vertical" audit. Any chance I can have a sample?
Thanks, Dawn
Hi Steve,

Vertical Audit...Is that a process audit you're talking about? If so, I'm with you: After all, the major problems always seem to pop up in the "grey area" between different departments or machines..

As for the checklists....: I have no preset ones. I start off with the standard ( ISO 9002 ), going via the manual and the procedures to the previous audit, customer complaints and rejects to put together a unique checklist for every audit.


John C

I've spent a fair bit of time knocking checklists. I think they are unprofessional and quite unnecessary for internal process audit where all you should be doing is establishing compliance to document.
But Steven's checklist for vertical audit seems to be the exception to my rule and I think I'll follow his example in future. To keep on track and cover everything in this type of investigation is very difficult. In fact, in my esperience, you get pulled off line and never get back, so it's just another sample audit, when, in Steven's words, it should be a 'complete' vertical audit. As Claes says, it's the interfaces that cause most of the problems and typical documentation tends to ignore the interfaces, so we need a means to check them thoroughly.
I never heard the term 'vertical' audit before or any name for the activity. I would also like to hear more from you, Steven, on the subject.
rgds, John C

Steven Truchon

I attended a QS9000 Lead Auditor class put on by "Excel Partnership". The class instructor was a British gent named John Killman who was the origin of the term "Vertical Audit". I adopted the term as it was the first reference for what I am now reading as a "process audit" stated by others. Regardless of the name, I truly love this audit method because it is easy to maintain focus and its really hard to dance and hide from it because it is so specific to the objective and mandates evidence at every step.


For what it's worth, I've made reference here before to 'audit trails' which differ from the individual clause audit in that my auditors start from the shipping dock where they pick a product ready to go and follow the trail backwards through the various departments. To help them understand what they're looking for, I give them a copy of a flowchart with process elements and ISO references (I lifted it from the Memory Jogger 9000) and turn it upside down.

A similar approach to yours, but with a different starting point.

Steven Truchon

I like that idea of running the audit backwards from the end. I'll try it that way as well. Im always open to another approach :)

John Martinowich

Regarding the issue of vertical audits, I found a link at to the National Computing Centre where there is a free download of "Internal Quality Audit Handbook." It gives the following definitions:

"Vertical audits look, in depth, at a particular function or department. This type of audit would monitor the use of all relevant procedures as they are used to support the function or activity. Internal audits are usually vertical audits."

"Horizontal audits follow a process from start to end. This type of audit would look at procedures as they support the process itself and is likely to span many different functions or departments. Audits or assessments leading to certification are likely to be horizontal."

Sorry to confuse the issue, but it seems, at least if we accept this definition, that process audits are horizontal. Any thoughts?

Great site Marc.
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