Internal Audit Value - What is the point of conducting internal audits to a checklist

dubrizo

Involved In Discussions
#1
Hi Covers,

I have question that is sure to bring forth several opinions... and help me vent

What is the point (aside from satisfying ISO req) of conducting internal audits to a checklist only?

My upper management believes auditing to be black and white, whereas I believe in process auditing. I recognize the value add in reviewing processes for effectiveness and output and feel it is the job of an internal auditor to provide added value through feedback beyond that of actual NC's and the occasional observation.

Call me crazy, but a monkey could be trained to audit to a checklist and say everything is hunkie dorie.
 
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John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#2
Re: Internal Audit Value - What is the point of conducting internal audits to a check

Hi Covers,

I have question that is sure to bring forth several opinions... and help me vent

What is the point (aside from satisfying ISO req) of conducting internal audits to a checklist only?

My upper management believes auditing to be black and white, whereas I believe in process auditing. I recognize the value add in reviewing processes for effectiveness and output and feel it is the job of an internal auditor to provide added value through feedback beyond that of actual NC's and the occasional observation.

Call me crazy, but a monkey could be trained to audit to a checklist and say everything is hunkie dorie.
dubrizo,

A fresh checklist for each process audit enables you to translate the audit objective into your specific audit sample. You are clear on what you want to see as evidence of effectiveness, who to talk to and what to ask for.

But the checklist must always leave room for recording whatever is discovered during the investigation.

The checklist can structure your notes for your report and for your audit records.

Completed checklist records enable you to see what was previously sampled and the previous findings while you prep your fresh checklist. Copying old checklists is a no-no.

Preparing fresh checklists in this way enables the auditor to take up less of the auditee's time during the audit investigation phase.

Lastly, auditing without a freshly prepared checklist can give the auditee the impression that the auditor is on a fishing expedition; hardly the basis for building and maintaining trust.

Please don't get me started on the brainless time-wasting caused by canned checklists!

John
 
K

KDail

#3
Re: Internal Audit Value - What is the point of conducting internal audits to a check

I think the greatest value of audit checklists are as organizational tools and to help add a measure of consistency when audit assignments are rotated among several auditors. I think of them as sort of a meeting agenda - adds structure and indicates to the auditee that you are not just winging it.

Just my :2cents:
 

dubrizo

Involved In Discussions
#4
Re: Internal Audit Value - What is the point of conducting internal audits to a check

I believe that building up a checklist for each audit is smart, in order to create a roadmap and stay within scope. What I have a problem with, as John made mention, are canned checklists that offer little value if you robotically follow it for every audit, year over year.
 

normzone

Trusted Information Resource
#5
Re: Internal Audit Value - What is the point of conducting internal audits to a check

Vent away. I have a checklist derived from the ISO 9001:2008 standard, comprising 240 questions

1) Each element or portion of the standard that can be parsed out as a separate issue is
2) It is then re-phrased as a question in the second section
3) The third section is for recording answers, observations, evidence, nonconformances

I've broken it into nine separate documents arbitrarily, with some overlap as appropriate. I've identified the nine as relevant to both a given department and their processes. Many liberties were taken in this arbitrary assignment.

I now have a tool I can use to develop internal auditors from scratch. I conduct some training, discussing the ever-changing audit fashion world, the evolution of the standard, audit war stories, good and bad audit practices.

I arm them with internal process documentation for the process group they're auditing, advise them of any buried bodies I'd like them to dig up, and let them review the previous audits, then I escort my newbie auditor through an audit or few.

At that point I keep them and lengthen their leash, or thank them for their service and return them to the wild, and recruit again.

It's working well for me. The more internal auditors on the team, the less the caseload impact on any one of us. I get fresh viewpoints brought to bear, can team up newbies with veterans, assign a bulldog to a challenging process or an unassertive newbie to a low risk / known good area.

The checklist gives them confidence and a place to start.
 
#6
Re: Internal Audit Value - What is the point of conducting internal audits to a check

Normzone:

Sorry to be a PITA but when I read "it works for me" I wonder if you've ever considered if it works for your management? Does it (the audit questions) work for THEM? And I don't mean, it makes them feel like they're "meeting ISO" or some other platitude. I mean, if I came to your place and asked each member of the management team, without you being in the same room, (or fear of your learning what they said) what keeps them awake at night, or do the audits help you to identify where in the process(es) issues occur in a timely manner - I wonder what they would say...
 

normzone

Trusted Information Resource
#7
Re: Internal Audit Value - What is the point of conducting internal audits to a check

Thanks Andy.

When I came on board into this small (3 dozen people) organization, I told the president that I'd be recruiting internal auditors. He told me I didn't have to recruit, I could draft.

Given that the senior management team were my first round draft picks for my internal audit team, I'd say the process generates a pretty good awareness of " where in the process(es) issues occur in a timely manner ".

As for what keeps them up at night, they'd all have their own answers. But all of them are aware that the ISO requirements and the actions of a successful company have a significant overlap, almost as if it was intended that way.

Second round draft picks now in training are all the diplomatic, clever, strong communications skills, detail oriented folks you would want to have.

The two best tools in my toolbox are an ever improving internal audit team and an effective corrective action system.

But back to topic, the checklist helps me to develop green auditors.
 

somashekar

Staff member
Super Moderator
#8
Re: Internal Audit Value - What is the point of conducting internal audits to a check

In an other thread here on 5th March, I wrote ....
Checklists at best are ready reckoner, and by itself do not make the foundation of a successful internal auditing program.
Through a check list you can follow a defined path, and most likely come through with a 'all is well' report., as you are sampling to find what the standard wants and what has been provided. As system matures, there is no charm in rediscovering.
If you want value, (effectiveness of what has been implemented & maintained) you must audit with process interaction background and with thought based trials to assess system performance under all conditions.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#9
Re: Internal Audit Value - What is the point of conducting internal audits to a check

I use checklists to help make sure I don't forget parts of an element when doing my process audits.

Just as helpful are my turtle notes, which help make sure I don't go berry picking and forget to cover all the parts. It took some practice for me to be comfortable with my turtle notes, but I really like being able to quickly find sample documents, calibrated equipment, names for training etc. to follow up on. I left out the element numbers on the notes but you might see that after all the follow up gets done, darn near the entire standard can have been touched on.

Good luck on getting good audit results from draftees.
 

Attachments

#10
Re: Internal Audit Value - What is the point of conducting internal audits to a check

One observation about "turtles" is that they completely miss the point of the "sequence and interaction" of the processes!

So, if you take a typical manufacturing process they don't help the auditor AT ALL understand at what point another process/control etc becomes important! So, for example, in said manufacturing process, when does material i.d and traceability become important? Or work instructions? Or inspections and therefore calibration. The turtle doesn't help the auditor to determine that. They may find through auditing it happens, but is it at the correct point in the process? I could go on...

In effect, the auditor can go around completing the boxes on the turtle which, since it's agnostic to the sequence etc. is as bad as a canned checklist...
 
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