Currently, organizations face dynamic changes; transformations occurring in the environment due to internal and external factors, can affect the integrity of the management system,the performance and effectiveness of the business, its processes, products and services. These transformations can lead to changes in the documented information, changing the processes sequence, such as how to design, develop, produce a product and / or provide a service, this leads the top management to take actions to evaluate if any of this changes has compromised the management system compliance, and if it is effectively implemented and maintained. These actions involve the use of quality tools, such as Audits, which if managed adequately, provides objective and relevant information to top management to take actions and make decisions in order to help identify opportunities for improvement; promote any need for change within the management system and identify the need for resources.
As quality tool, Audits, and particularly Internal Audits, have their merits and pitfalls, which are important to consider when establishing a audits program whose results can really add value.
The Merits (advantages) of internal audits are obtained when the auditing principles established in ISO 19011 are applied, which helps to make this an effective and reliable tool in the support of management policies and controls. These advantages include: • While being objective, systematic and independent they provide information to top management and process leaders to improve operations. • Provide evidence of relevant, reliable, adequate and consistent audit and findings that can be reproducible. • They allowauditors without any conflict of interest, to work independently and reach similar conclusions in similar circumstances. • Improve the relationship between the parties involved in the audit, ensuring the confidentiality of the results.
Annex SL – the high-level structure for all ISO standards – promotes a significant advantage to internal audits, expanding the planning holistic vision by considering not only the requirements of clause 9.2, but also those related to the context of the organization (Chapter 4), risks and opportunities (clause 6.1).
The Pitfalls (disadvantages) of internal audits are noticeable when these are implemented, some includes: • Some organizations limit criteria planning only to frequency (annual, biannual, monthly), regardless the previous audits results and the importance of the processes. • Few organizations take into account the risks associated with audit program. By not knowing the risks of the program, no actions to control them are implemented. • Traditional training of internal auditors is focused on compliance and not on the process-based technical audit using the PDCA cycle. • The audit team generally is composed of internal staff, rarely chosen from among the most inquisitive, bright and responsible within the organization. • In some cases, organizations with few employees can not guarantee the objectivity and impartiality of the audit process, which leads to contract external auditors, and increasing costs. • In some cases internal auditors assume the role of police, intimidating the client being audited and hampering the process, resulting in unreliable audit findings. The new generation of professional auditors requires flexible, open-minded and focused attitude on a constant value contribution. • Audit program monitoring is limited to compliance, without considering other factors such as the effective closure of corrective actions and the recurrence of nonconformities.
The challenge for leaders auditors and audit teams is to turn these disadvantages normally weaknesses, into strengths through periodic and proactive reviews of the internal auditing process.