Scheduling Internal Audits - What is meant by 'based on status and importance'?


Fire Girl

My last maintenance audit, my registrar was not pleased with how I schedule audits. The standard states that audits should be scheduled based on status and importance. What exactly is meant by this? I thought I knew but apparently I don't!

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Aaron Lupo

The audit schedule is based on the status and importance of the areas being audited (ANSI/ISO/ASQC Q9001-1994). In addition, areas where non-conformances are frequently issued (due to customer complaints, internal cars, or audit findings) will be audited more frequently. If the audits continue to be positive (no findings, internal cars, or customer complaints), the area will be audited less frequently. Regardless, all elements of the quality system are reviewed at least once a year during Management Review meetings. The (Person in your Company) is responsible for scheduling audits (the acceptability of the audit schedule will be approved during Management Review quarterly(how ever often they meet)).

This is what I state in our Procedure. Let me know if this helps.


The auditor wasn't pleased? I would say, "How so?". Make him explain. Was it just an opinion? You know what they say about opinions....evrybody has one. Possibly, when reviewing C & A, he/she noticed repeat N/C's that should be addressed by internal audits. Other than that, you decide the frequency. Like ISO Guy says, during Management Review Mtgs, these schedules are approved or new audits scheduled based on the inputs to the Meeting. Unless he/she issued a minor, dollar to a doughnut there wasn't, I wouldn't lose sleep over it/

Dan Larsen

Like Energy, I'd guess that the auditor noticed some high findings areas that weren't audited more frequently. That's usually what the auditor will look for. Schedule all areas at least once each year. Using historical data (prior years audits, CAR's, complaint records, etc.), schedule problem areas more frequently. If you have an area that turns up being a problem during the year, schedule a second audit (possibly as verification for action taken).

Finally, make sure you take credit for those "mini audits" you very likely do. Most Management Reps will do a quick check of the areas that they know have been problems. If you do, take credit for it. After all, it is an audit.

Al Dyer

Food for thought:

QS-9000 Element 4.1 3 states that all elements of the quality system need to be reviewed during management review, at defined frequencies.

QS-9000 Element 4.17 says that internal audits must be scheduled on the basis of the status and importance.......

Where does it say that all elements of QS-9000 must be audited (4.1.7) on a yearly basis?

Where does it say that all elements must be reviewed (4.1.3) on a yearly basis?

Just my personal opinion, but good business practice has led us to do a full internal audit of all elements yearly and report those results to management review for documentation that management has reviewed all elements of the quality system.

(This is in addition to the more valuable
product/process/dock audits)



Like you, I feel auditing all elements at least once a year is good practice, but is not mandatory. If you look at the amount of level 3 procedures one should have for Process Control (element 4.9, you can audit that particular element many more times than, say, Element 20. The company determines the areas of importance, not the standard.
Man, New England is beautiful right now.

Fire Girl

I do audit every element at least once per year and I state this in my procedures. I think he was a little miffed (?) as to how I go about choosing which elements to audit when. Does he mean that some should be scheduled more than once per year? I think I should be able to determine this for our company based on our needs. The standard is quite vague about this (as well as other things!).

Thanks for all the ideas 'guys'!


Fire Girl,
He was probably miffed at the way YOU go about scheduling audits. The audits should be directed by "Management" based on the importance as a result of audits, mgt reviews, etc. I assume you are the Mgt Rep. Your responsibility is to direct the audits authorized by Management. Not to select. I do what you do (select), but, there is a place for "Executive" management to sign and authorize. In the case of your auditor, I can tell him that Management selects the areas to be audited as evidenced by their signature on the audit schedule.

Alf Gulford

Not all registrars get hung up on scheduling responsibilities. Although I'm the lead auditor here and not the Mgt. Rep., the registrar has never questioned the fact that I produce the auditing schedules. He just wants to make sure that I base the scheduling on factors mentioned in the above posts, and that 'management' is satisfied with the results.



Just trying to determine why Fire Girl's auditor was "miffed". There was something that he didn't care for. Quite possibly, and I used the word "probably" in my response, the importance of the audits was the problem. I say blame it on Management and let the auditor pursue his answer elsewhere. After all, Mgt Rep's have their hands full answering other auditor whims. I have never heard of an auditor getting "hung up" on audit schedules or responsibilities either.
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