What is an audit, what types of audits exist and what are the benefits?
Want to know everything about audits? Then you're at the right place. Here, you will read exactly what an audit is, what types of audits exist and what the benefits are of performing them properly.
Systematic periodic check
An audit is a systematic periodic check that is performed by an auditor. Based on questionnaires or checklists, the auditor looks into whether the reality corresponds with the desired course of events. The auditor identifies any structural deviations and determines the seriousness of the deviation, upon which these findings are reported to the client. This client is typically the management. The results of an audit procedure are recorded in a report.
The word audit comes from Latin: audire means to hear, to listen. In the Roman Empire, governments used messengers to convey important information. This person was the auditor.
Types of audit
There are internal and external audits. An internal audit focuses on making improvements to the 'internal' organization. When an organization seeks to certify for a certain standard, the audit procedure is usually carried out by an external advisor that is hired to do this. For ISO standards, it is even mandatory to have an audit carried out by an independent person. External audits are periodic checks commissioned by external organizations.
You can perform audits (internally or externally) on three (organizational) levels:
- System audit
- Process audit
- Product audit
In a system audit, an auditor focuses on a system as a whole. They will assess to what extent the quality management meets the set system requirements and whether the system is effective enough and functions as desired.
A process audit focuses on the course of a process. The auditor reviews the entire process step by step and checks whether the daily practice in the workplace still matches the process descriptions.
A product audit is about the output of the processes. The auditor assesses the quality of the product or service and focuses primarily on the characteristics and attributes that the customer deems important.
What is an internal audit?
An internal audit is a systematic periodic check, initiated by the organization itself and performed by auditors employed by the organization. It is in fact a management tool to identify opportunities and risks and to recognize improvements.
Internal audit system: the ideal improvement tool
When it comes to internal audits, often times the emphasis is on what goes wrong. A missed opportunity. A positive approach yields better results: What is the strength of the organization and what can we learn from the things that are going well? Especially when internal audits have been carried out within an organization for several years in a row, it may have become a grind. With the help of current software based on a positive question, you will achieve a better result. For example, an internal audit will be experienced as inspiring and innovative and employee engagement is increased.
Who performs internal audits?
Is everything financially justified? Are the administrative organization and the preparation of the internal financial statements correct?
Is the organization well organized? Are all components properly managed and is the quality of information, communication and control systems in order?
Is the internal IT organization well structured and are responsibilities well covered? What about the hardware, the system software and applications, the internal and (if present) external network, safety and emergency systems?
Do people and systems work according to current instruction lists and manuals? Are work instructions, procedures and registrations up to date?
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What is an external audit?
An external audit is a systematic periodic audit commissioned by an external organization. This is usually a certification institution or a customer. It can also be a trade association or a company that is interested in a takeover. The initiative therefore stems from outside and lies with an independent institution. An external audit usually relates to the entire organization (certification audit) or to those parts of the organization that influence the respective product (supplier audit).
Different types of external audits
The quality of products, services and processes is often influenced by suppliers. What the supplier supplies is of major influence on meeting certain quality requirements. When a customer finds deviations, they may demand measures to be taken. This is the supplier audit. The supplier audit is an audit that is carried out on behalf of a customer. Seen from the customer's point of view, this audit is a supplier audit. When the supplier is in possession of an ISO certificate, there is less need for the customer to perform a supplier audit. For a customer, a certified supplier means that an independent institution has established that the quality management system meets certain requirements and that it is supervised.
A certification institution carries out a certification audit at an organization to assess whether the quality management system meets the requirements according to an ISO standard. If the audit shows that the quality management system complies, the certifying institution issues a certificate. In general, an ISO certificate is valid for three years. Every year, the certification institution carries out an audit to assess whether the quality management system is still functioning adequately. A re-audit will take place after three years.
What is the purpose of auditing?
Why should you perform audits? An audit basically provides you with the information on the basis of which you can implement improvements and shows which measures you must take to maintain and/or improve the required quality. However, you can also have an audit performed when a specific standard requires this. For example, when the quality management system is certified based on ISO or other quality standards.
What an audit can tell you…
- Where bottlenecks and problems can be found
- Whether there are any potential risks
- Whether there are any structural errors and within the quality management system
- Where what kind of improvements are needed
- What the effect is of implemented measures
- What the effect is of newly implemented activities
- To what extent the quality management system contributes to achieving goals
- Whether your quality management system is still effective
- Whether it is necessary to initiate other improvement options
Benefits of digital audits
Digitizing audits offers many benefits. Rather than making use of clipboards and paper, you can easily perform, follow and analyze the same checks digitally. You will have real-time insight, your reports are always up to date and points for improvement are automatically forwarded to the right people in the organization. Data no longer needs to be entered in Excel, saving you a lot of time.
Benefits of digital audits
- Creates an overview
- Cost effective
- Helps identify and reduce risks
- Tool for strategic decisions
Also read the blog ‘Why digitize your audits? 11 Reasons’.
Smart software helps with digitizing your audits and setting up, planning and carrying out audits. Subsequent reporting and linking follow-up actions to your findings is also a lot easier. As a result, the entire organization is involved in measuring and improving quality.
Onmisbare features audit software
With smart features, it becomes really simple to digitally design and carry out audits.
Quality management app
Make implementing audits and collecting data as easy as possible with a mobile app.
Make the findings and points of improvement visual
By offering the options for the auditor to add videos, audio or images to the findings, it becomes clear at a glance what any points of improvements are. Photos or videos are worth a thousand words and by utilizing them, you are also lowering the chance of discussions afterwards.
Prevent discussions about results
Is a result good or bad and why? Determine in advance the marge within which a assessment is good or bad, to avoid uncertainties afterwards.
By adding scores (percentage or 10-point scale) you can make the most important parts of your audit weigh more than other, less important parts.
Triggers & Alerts
With triggers and alerts, you can automatically share insights and points of improvement with the right people within the organization, so that these can be followed up immediately.
Real time reports
In the fast-paced world we live in, you won't be able to get away with outdated data. Ensure that your reports are always up to date with the latest data and based on the most recent version of standards and rules and legislation.
Visually attractive reports
Avoid boring tables and graphs. Activate quality awareness with visually appealing reports and infographics, to make it manageable and come to life in the organization.
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