Audits are crucial to receive and maintain certification. Yet they are often perceived as anxious moments. If you properly prepare for an audit you have already won half the battle: it ensures that you can enter the audit with confidence.
Have sufficient knowledge of the requirements!
Of course it starts with this: make sure you have enough knowledge and know what the requirements are that you or your organization are being audited on. Do you not yet have sufficient knowledge? Then read up on it, watch an elearning course (via the Online ISO Academy for example) or follow a training (KAM Consultants, our sistercompany, offers training on every aspect of ISO standards). Make sure you are aware of what is required in preparation for an audit.
Prepare for an audit: raise awareness in the organisation
An important point that is often overlooked. Does the organisation know what is being tested for? Is one aware of what the expectation is. If product quality is being assessed, but no one knows how, then there is insufficient awareness of the strategy, mission and vision. Make sure the team is aware and competent. That way you not only get the best result but the whole organization feels responsible for the result.
This point ties in nicely with the previous point, ‘Prepare for an audit: raise awareness in the organisation’. How is it arranged in your organisation? Does all responsibility lie with a KAM Coordinator or with another responsible person in the organisation? Divide the responsibilities, you don't have to do it all by yourself. By dividing the responsibilities you create sufficient support in the organisation (everyone is an owner) and you will pass the audit better.
Maintain the management system
We cannot emphasize it enough: keep your documentation up to date throughout the year! Only in this way can you stay up to date and can a clear monitoring and evaluation take place. Make an annual plan, for example, so that you know exactly what you are going to pick up and when. What do you have to deal with on a weekly, quarterly or annual basis? Just plan it out!
Structure your documents
Make sure documents are well managed. Know what documents are available and keep good and accurate records of them. Organize documents properly, not only with a clear folder structure and document name, but also make sure there are no duplicate versions of documents floating around.
Internal audit document control
Tip: perform the internal audit 'document control'. You can see this as a dress rehearsal before the external audit. Take this internal audit seriously and test the system against the standard. Perform the internal audit at least 1x per year on the mandatory documentation, preferably well (+/- 1 month) before the external audit. Point for attention: guarantee the independence of the internal auditor.
Perform annual process audits! During the audit, processes will also be tested: the entire process from the request for a product/service to the delivery/final product. By testing processes regularly in the organization you will pick up the mistakes yourself and an auditor does not have to do this anymore. Make sure that this is done by an independent person.
Use the management review to evaluate your own system. Look back on last year with regard to instruments, methods and results. Determine the new strategy, determine what improvements are possible and determine what developments or changes may affect your organisation.
Practical audit preparation
You prepare for an audit the best as possible. Is the audit scheduled? Have you received an audit plan? If so, you should know who the auditor wants to speak to and what topics will be covered. A good starting point for your final preparations: inform colleagues who will be interviewed, bundle documents, make space available and provide coffee and/or lunch.
Are all these points covered, are you prepared in every detail? Then there is no reason to panic. Have confidence and exude this.