An ISO 9001 Internal Audit is an opportunity for businesses to ensure they are meeting and complying with international standards to ensure quality products and services. The process is often conducted by third party quality management consulting firms who provide specialists to work with your business to ensure that legislative updates are implemented and that standards are consistently met. As one of the more popular global standards today, ISO 9001 is a collection of standards for quality management systems that ensure products and services consistently meet the customer’s requirements and that quality is continuously improved. Depending on the industry a business operates in, management may opt to apply for certification in for ISO 13485 (medical devices), ISO 17582 (electoral organizations in the government), ISO 18091 (local government), ISO/TS 22163 (business management requirements for rail organizations), ISO/TS 29001 (petroleum, petrochemical and natural gas industries), or ISO/IEC 90003 (software engineering).
The ISO 9001 internal audit is one of two types of business audits, with the other being an external audit. According to 9001 Simplified, the external audit is conducted “to verify that your ISO 9001 quality management system is effectively implemented.” Once this is verified, a company’s registrar can issue the ISO 9001 certificate. A company’s very first audit is often called a “registration audit,” while the follow up audits are often called “surveillance audits,” which ensure that a business continually meets international standards. However, an ISO 9001 internal audit is more of a “self-check mechanism” in which quality management consulting specialists “assess process conformity, evaluate performance, and identify processes that require improvement as a mechanism” to ensure that a business continuously implements their quality management systems.
Depending on the resources of a business, the ISO 9001 internal audit process can be performed by an in-house team of ISO specialists or third-party quality management consulting firms. There are several benefits to outsourcing an ISO audit. However, there are also some challenges in selecting a quality management specialist.
ISO 9001 Internal Audit: Important Questions to Ask a Quality Management Consulting Specialist
Outsourcing the ISO audit to a third-party firm is a lengthy process of prospecting, interviewing, evaluating, and selecting the best provider for your business. It’s important to partner with a quality management consulting firm that understands the ins and outs of the business and recognizes the business’ unique challenges in maintaining high quality standards. Here are some important questions to ask a quality management consulting specialist during the prospecting and interview phases.
1. Do you have relevant experience within the industry the business is operating?
Finding the right quality management consulting specialist often begins with this question of whether he or she has relevant experience in the field the business is operating in. Remember that these specialists are not only on board to help the business achieve certification (for those who are applying for it for the first time) and ensure that these standards are met thereon after. Evaluating his or her experience in the field can give the business insight on how they can help achieve organizational goals.
2. What are your strengths as a quality management consulting specialist and which areas do you excel in the most?
A quality management consulting specialist can aid am organization in different areas of the business and play different roles, which is why it’s best to find out which areas he or she excels in. They may be an expert advisor, technical consultant, or a skilled system analyst, all of which are beneficial in different stages of an ISO audit. Learning their strengths can help an organization better determine where he or she can be the best support in the business.
3. What is your track record of successfully designing or improving a quality management system?
There are two things that a quality management consulting specialist must discuss when answering this question: his or her experience in working on an actual quality management system and the results: what is their success rate? Have they helped businesses like yours in the same industry? What were the results?
4. Do you have relevant quality management systems software experience?
In cases where businesses already have a QMS in place, they can easily ask their provider to recommend specialists who are already knowledgeable in the specific software used. For those who are looking to hire from third-party quality management consulting firms, it is best to ask if they have experience in dealing with the software the business already uses.
5. How do you measure success?
In today’s business landscape, merely implementing solutions to current problems is not enough. Measuring and evaluating results is vital in determining whether an action is successful or not. Ask the specialist how they measure success in an ISO audit and what factors contribute to such success.
An ISO 9001 internal audit does not end in just an analysis of a business’ processes. It also involves ensuring that a business is compliant to legislation updates. Finding a consultant that matches a business’ needs can help an organization achieve their ISO audit goals better.