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Internal audit discrepancy - We missed a few audits that were scheduled


We completed our ISO audit and received a minor for our internal audit schedule. We missed a few audits that was schedule for November and the auditor made it a minor finding. My boss doesn't want us to complete the rest of the internal audit as he feels it is no longer valid since it was a finding and will make it right for 2020. However, I feel like we still need to complete the audit as planned. Is my boss correct about his decision?
I believe the audits have to be completed as part of the 'immediate action' requirements, which is part of the corrective action submission. I come from AS9100 so that standard may have more robust requirements.
You should still complete those lagging internal audits and gain the detailed information that the external certification audit won't provide on those processes or areas.

It would be quite illogical if the sole purpose of doing internal audits is to ensure you will not have a finding in the external audits. If your boss feels that he can skip these because that finding was made, then likely he does not see any value in internal audits themselves and that would be your first point to clarify with him. He might even be right, as an ISO certification auditor might accept audit reports that are present, and meet the ISO criteria as evidence of audits being conducted in a manner sufficient to meet their requirements. However, these ISO criteria are not based on measuring value to management at all, and thus might completely miss the fact that management does not even really use the outcomes of the internal audits, or only do so to pay lip-service to the ISO certification organization.

How to clarify the value that internal audits can add? That depends on what value management appreciates. One of their possible values is similar to calibrations of equipment.
Internal audits are irregular check-ups on the consistency and control over processes. If your audit finds it is out of the set bounds (procedure) you could state
Then for your current case (missed audits) you could draw the analogy that if you find a calibration that was overdue, you do not wait until when it would have been due again (add 11 months), you catch-up to see whether there were risks.
Sadly this analogy breaks down somewhat as the subjects of internal audits are not as subservient to nature as the subjects of calibrations; going overdue is less clear of a risk as audits do not explicitly declare that a process is good for the next year.
Processes do not drift at any predictable pace like controlled equipment does, but drift is more subject to turn-over of personnel, equipment or organizational changes, management change, etc.. However, often the intervals are set based on the principle 'often enough for (disconnected) expectation of external parties'. These parties likely won't accept the "I did not audit it last year, as they've had good performance the past 3 times and the changes to the influencing factors have been trivial to minor. I spent my auditors' time on more and deeper audits of risk project or process so-and-so due to our new IT system there, and our newly organized team structure there" rationale.

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
Ask your boss to define what objective s/he has for the internal audit program so you have top management support (including the required resources) for doing the audits you determine and recommend as necessary to fulfill that objective.

Auditing just to hang on to a certificate may be undermining support for the management system.
Auditing is an ongoing process. It is not fixed. It is flexible. Next time, when you have an audit scheduled that you can't get to, update your schedule and re-schedule the audit. There should be no issue with rescheduling the missed audits between now and sometime later.


Involved In Discussions
If internal audits were planned and then the plan has not been followed, I would bet that the person responsible for internal audits (probably Quality Manager) has been assigned insufficient authority to push for their performance; I guess that the same person is responsible for performing the audits according to the plan. Full responsibility and insufficient authority make beautiful scapegoat. I don't envy this person.
What's more important, internal audits form the base of feedback loop in improvement process - they provide information where the system can or must be improved. Without information, no corrective action is possible. Management is happy - until someone from outside (auditor or customer) points that something is wrong. Then the management has a convenient scapegoat at hand.

Mike S.

An Early 'Cover'
Since you received a minor I would consider doing the audits part of required correction. If your boss pushes back, ask the auditor -- he will have to approve your CA response.

Ed Panek

QA RA Small Med Dev Company
Why do you do internal audits? I know standards require them. Since they are required make them value added and not just an exercise to check a box as noted above.

tony s

Information Seeker
However, I feel like we still need to complete the audit as planned. Is my boss correct about his decision?
Isn't this what caused the nonconformity? Missed what was planned on November? If you defer it early next year, what would be the difference if you complete it on the remaining days of December 2019? Missing an audit schedule should not constitute a nonconformity in the first place. I believe your boss has justifiable reasons to defer it on 2020.
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