Self Audits - Internal Audits - Area supervisors to audit their own area


Jimmy Olson

Hello everyone. I know that ISO states that audits cannot be performed by people in the same department/work area, but I was wondering if this applies to all audits. The area I am looking at is ESD auditing. Our ESD program is part of our quality system and the current procedure in place calls for the area supervisors to audit their own area. Is this allowable or should it be changed?
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Elsmar Forum Sponsor
You are correct,"auditors shall not audit their own work". However, in your example if the manager is the assigned auditor he cannot audit his own department. The same applies to the supervisor, if he is the assigned auditor he cannot audit his department for ESD compliance.


I am with Sam on this one. IMHO, as the manager/supervisor, you are responsible for the activities of the department including any process therein. I think you would have a hard time convincing any auditor that it wasn't the manager/supervisor's own work. To make the case that the manager is disassociated from the work in the department would really be stretching it.

On the other hand a department employee could audit the department as long as his own work wasn't a part of his audit. Just my opinion but I see a big difference there.

What is "work"?

The question here, IMO, revolves around "work". If I am an inspector on 2nd shift, can I audit 1st shift inspection? Can I audit other 1st shift inspectors’ work? If I am a manager, can I audit ANY part of my department?

To answer these, go to the previous line: “Selection of auditors and conduct of audits shall ensure objectivity and impartiality of the audit process.” To me, this is far more important!

In a three-person shop, not auditing your own work may be very difficult. Meeting the “objectivity and impartiality” requirements may or may not be more difficult.

Roger Eastin

Terminology aside, I think you are all saying the same thing. The "other Dave's" comments are the most important: how do you assure impartiality and objectivity? Whether it is a process or a department, the auditor has to have objectivity. Now I understand this gets a little fuzzy with very small operations, but for most other organizations cross-departmental (to pick a term) auditors should work. Even though I may "own" a part of the purchasing process, for example, I can still audit the other parts and should be able to audit the interfaces impartially. To Richard's original question, I agree with Dave B that one shift ought to be able to audit another shift in most circumstances for these ESD audits. I would not audit my own shift, however.

Jimmy Olson

Thank you for the information everyone. It seems that this comes down to a question of whose work is being audited. As far as ESD goes, would you be able to audit your area for ESD management since you could argue that it isn't your work? Or is this a real gray area that would be better to just avoid? Thanks.


I don't think that a manager should audit his own dept. as a function of the "official" formal internal audit. Obviously he should be performing audit functions on a daily basis. He must know how his dept / process is operating! But for internal audit purposes, a separate and objective view is what is called for. This is the checks and balances system.

From where I sit, if he is the process owner, department manager, whatever you want to call him, ..if he has reporting responsibilities and accountability for the functioning of that process, dept, whatever,..then it is someone else who must be doing the auditing.

It comes down to "who is responsible/accountable for the successful functioning of this process?" and "who will be responsible for taking corrective action should any be needed based on the audit findings?". If the manager is either of these people, he does not belong in the internal audit role.

Jimmy Olson

Since wording things the right way seems to be an issue I was wondering if this would be acceptable. What if area supervisors did an ESD maintenance inspection each month, and then the overall ESD management of the area was part of our formal internal audit process (and checked by someone else)? Could this same idea also apply to other aspects as well (such as other maintenance programs)? I realize this is probably looking at loopholes, but I am trying to figure out the easiest way for us to do things but still satisfy external auitors.:D

M Greenaway

When considering the effective auditing of processes it might well be an excellent idea for the process owner to audit the inputs to the process, as he is effectively auditing his suppliers. This could be very useful.

However I would agree that perhaps he is not best placed to give an unbiased opinion on the effectiveness of his own process, the adequacy of the resources, controls, etc.


Jim Wade said:

Is that what ISO 9001 calls for, Lucinda, or is it just your (no doubt excellent) opinion?

rgds Jim
Ye gads man! Don't make me start quoting ISO 9001 instead of reading it for yourself!:) I know you have a copy of it somewhere all marked up with highlighters and doodles.:vfunny:

9001 does call for the selection of auditors and the conduct of audits to ensure objectivity and impartiality of the audit process. This can hardly be the case if a mgr. (with bonus riding on his process's reported margins) grades his own paper. I'd say he was pretty partial, wouldn't you?

And 9000 defines the audit itself as being an "independent" process. In other words: not a function of day-to-day information gathering which is an identified part of a functioning process, such as a manager might do. It is a process wholly unto itself for a specific purpose.

I sorely lack a copy of ISO 19011 so I can't further explore the definitional technicalities of internal audit, but I do think that I have a fairly clear grasp of the concept and the intent.

A manager is not impartial to his own process or department. IMEO :)
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