ISO certification is crucial for businesses to show their commitment to quality management, environmental responsibility, and overall operational excellence. However, obtaining ISO certification requires thorough preparation, which includes conducting an internal audit to evaluate the company’s compliance with the relevant standards.
An internal audit systematically examines the company’s processes, systems, and policies to ensure they align with the ISO standards. The ultimate goal of the internal audit is to identify non-conformities and develop a plan to address them before the external auditor arrives.
In this blog, we’ll guide you through the essential steps for conducting an internal audit before obtaining ISO certification.
Step 1: Understand The ISO Standards
The first step in conducting an internal audit is to comprehensively understand the ISO standards that apply to your business. ISO has developed several standards, including ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 45001, each focusing on quality management, environmental responsibility, and occupational health and safety. You must read and interpret these standards to determine which ones apply to your business and ensure compliance.
Step 2: Develop An Audit Plan
Once you understand the relevant ISO standards, you can work on developing an audit plan. The audit plan should outline the internal audit’s scope, objectives, and methodology. You must identify the areas to be audited, the processes to be examined, and the documents to be reviewed.
Step 3: Assign An Internal Audit Team
The internal audit team is responsible for conducting the audit, identifying non-conformities, and developing corrective actions. The team should comprise knowledgeable individuals who understand the company’s processes, systems, and policies. You should also ensure that the internal audit team has received the necessary training to conduct an effective audit.
Step 4: Conduct The Internal Audit
The internal audit should be conducted according to the audit plan, following a systematic and proactive approach. The audit team should review documents, interview employees, and observe processes. The internal audit team should also review the company’s corrective action plan and verify the disciplinary actions have been implemented.
Step 5: Develop A Corrective Action Plan
The corrective action plan is a critical part of the internal audit process. It identifies non-conformities and outlines the company’s steps to address them. The corrective action plan should be comprehensive, including timelines, responsibilities, and measures for tracking progress. It would help if you implemented the corrective action plan before the external auditor arrives.
Step 6: Follow-Up On Corrective Actions
The final step in the internal audit process is to follow up on corrective actions. You must verify that the disciplinary actions have been implemented and effectively addressed the non-conformities identified during the internal audit. The follow-up process should also include reviewing the corrective action plan to ensure it’s still relevant and practical.
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- ISO 9001
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- ISO 45001
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Contact one of our certification consultants today to learn more.