5 Benefits for Having Your Next Internal Audit Conducted by an External Consultant

The truth doesn’t hurt. In fact, the truth can bring to light areas of operational weakness or dysfunction that senior management can’t see because they are too close. Although it may be uncomfortable to acknowledge these problems, in the end it will be far less painful to learn about these issues from an internal audit than from competitors in the marketplace or from a third party certification body.

When it’s time for an audit, the wisest members of senior management seek out unbiased and impartial auditors to probe the darkest areas of financial obscurity or process inefficiency. Internal audits, however, can be compromised either by subtle influence or the appearance of influence. That’s why external consultants have become increasingly popular as the leads on internal audits.

Consider the following 5 benefits that a third party consultant trained in ISO quality management standards can provide for internal units.

1. Independence

Unbiased reporting requires more than the absence of influence. It requires the absence of even the suggestion of influence. Outside auditors who have do not have any other reporting relationships within the company can assure stakeholders that the information in the report is completely independent of the processes that are being audited, as well as free of influences from the auditees. They bring at very least a fresh set of eyes that can swiftly identify non-conformances and opportunities for improvement that someone working in the business might not be able to see from familiarity and habituation to the way things have always been done.

2. Exposure to Many Organisations

Many businesses faces the same categories of challenges, so can prove to be highly valuable to bring in an external consultant who brings in experience from across many organisations. That consultant will have seen and worked through many ways of approaching the same issues within any given industry. They bring this knowledge to an internal audit and can use it to recommend improvements to obtain better results from your quality management system. On a quarterly internal audit schedule a consultant could have conducted audits across 20 or more clients. When a consultant brings this specialised knowledge to their jobs, they can then recommend improvements to obtain optimised results from your quality management system.

3. Trained Professionals

All auditors are human and that means that each one comes with their own set of individual experiences, beliefs and thought patterns. In order to introduce greater equity and fairness into the audit process, organisations have agreed on international standards and procedures, which are laid out in ISO 19011:2018. Companies can present their stakeholders and third-party certification bodies with more authoritative reports when they have been conducted by professional internal auditors who have completed Lead Auditor training and conduct audits every day of the week.

4. Elimination of the Too Many Hats Problem

Two of the defining characteristics of life in the 21st century are the velocity of information along multiple channels and the collapse of business cycles. There is more data to process and less time to do it in. The result is that people in businesses have too many hats to wear and conducting internal audits can slip through the cracks. Generally, the responsibility for conducting internal audits within an organisation is not allocated to someone in the full-time role of Quality Manager. Instead, this tends to be simply added to the list of tasks assigned to someone on staff. By signing a long-term agreement with an outside consultant to conduct periodical internal audits, the company offloads that responsibility and simultaneously assures that the company won’t fall behind on internal audit schedules.

5. Cost-effective Resourcing

Not all companies have the resources to hire the audit professionals that they really need in order to excel within their chosen field. Smaller business owners have a great opportunity to level the playing field when they bring in an outside consultant so they can start incorporating insights from experienced experts. This is how even small businesses can utilise high calibre resources for the fraction of a price to what it would cost to hire in-house. When time and resources are tight, it makes more sense for small business owners to bring in the talent they need rather than try to get up to speed themselves.

Bringing the Audit Professionals to You

Long before your next internal audit is due, it makes sense to look into your options for outsourcing the project to take advantage of the five benefits listed above. Reach out to a professional audit consultant trained in ISO standards for quality management by contacting the specialists at the Compliance Council (ISO Templates parent company). We can help you define precisely what makes the most sense for your company based on your chosen industry and your company’s growth stage. A professional audit from an outside professional can even help your company find problems that you didn’t know you had. This will show you how to operate more efficiently and productively, enhancing your overall financial performance while it keeps you in compliance with regulations. That would certainly take the sting out of a painful audit

10 ideas to improve your Quality Management System

quality management system exists to help a company coordinate and direct their systems and processes in order to ensure they’re able to meet customer expectations and all regulations. Because quality management systems are utilised in order to ensure a business continuously improves the quality of what they do, it’s important that that quality management system be of a high quality itself.

1. Remove Procedures and Focus on Process

Companies can simplify the QMS to remove cumbersome, lengthy procedures. By refining the QMS, people can make sure that it focuses on processes that can be mapped out simply, as diagrams or in software. A process and a procedure are different in that a process says what needs to be done and why (without specifying how), and a procedure says exactly how the process should be done.

2. Put the System in the Hands of the Many, Instead of the Few

Another idea to improve a QMS is to shift the responsibility for managing it from a single person to all persons in the organisation. By allowing everyone involved to manage the QMS, companies can engage entire teams in the revision of the system. Essentially, employees then set the requirements that they have to comply with, rather than the standard nominating exactly what they have to do. For example, they could choose that they don’t have to keep a spreadsheet with everyone’s qualifications if they have HR software to use.

3. Eliminate Unnecessary Documents

To improve the usabiilty and comprehensibility of a QMS, organisations should consider eliminating spreadsheets and other documents that don’t add any value and are used to maintain compliance with ISO 9001.

4. Look Into Adopting the Lean Management Principles

Another idea for improving a quality management system is to look into adopting the lean management principlessuch as 5S. Lean management principles were born out of manufacturing practices but they aren’t just applicable to manufacturing, they are guiding principles applicable to all industries to focus on continuous improvement.

5. Use Software that Can Retain Documented Information

One way a quality management system can be improved is by implementing a software solution that can retain “documented information,” as required by the standard, but without having to have detailed manuals and other documents. Software such as Assignar can serve this exact purpose for a company.

6. Get Specific About What Information is Needed

To ensure that a quality management system is exactly right for an organisation, look at the data that is being collected as part of the quality management system. Then see that this is what the Leadership Team and other interested parties require. Find out exactly what information they need, and then provide that information specifically, rather than dictating what information is required.

7. Create Meaningful Objectives that Align with the Strategic Direction of the Leadership Team

For a quality management system that makes sense for a business, leaders can create meaningful objectives that align with the strategic direction of the Leadership Team. The easiest way to find out about what their strategic direction is is to ask them what they’re currently focusing on improving. What they say they want to improve will be the area or focus where they are going to allocate resources and how you can engage them in the quality management system.

8. Review and Refine the Process Regularly

Another idea for improving a quality management system is to focus on checking key points in processes on a regular basis. Rather than trying to check everything on an annual basis as part of the internal audit program, doing regular checks will ensure that processes are working—and if they’re not, that they’re changed.

9. Make Sure the Quality Management System is Scalable

Quality management systems that rely on spreadsheets get overwhelming when data is just too much. Businesses grow. For that reason, companies want to have a quality management system that can grow with them. Automated, digital quality management systems make it easier to grow and adapt than paper based systems. Companies that choose quality management systems that are scalable or totally agile gives them a strong framework to start with. This framework can be built upon as a company evolves and grows over time.

10. Hire a Consultant to Help Improve the Quality Management System

Consultants can conduct an assessment of the current quality management system, training people to use it, conducting internal audits to see objectively determine how processes are performing. Ultimately, a businesses’ quality management system helps manage the processes, policies, and procedures that are used to ensure the business thrives. By taking the quality management system and improving upon it, it’s possible to also improve the business, and in turn, increase revenue, profit, morale, and overall success.