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3 Steps to Get Started on Your Internal Audits

Have you finished your Auditor training so that you could conduct your own internal audits? That’s great – let me ask you this? Have you actually started conducting your internal audits?

If you answered No, then you are not alone. I often have students that have completed their Lead Auditor training, however, still haven’t started conducting their internal audits yet.

Why is this?

From speaking to a few students, the reasons are mostly around confidence to get started.

Do you think you need to ‘practice’ more? OR You don’t know where to start?

To help you get started I have 3 easy steps that you can follow. This will break down what might seem like a mammoth task, into a smaller manageable task.

Step One – Internal Audit schedule

Don't think that you have to conduct your internal audit across absolutely everything at the one time. Just because an external auditor comes once a year and does everything all at once doesn’t mean you have to as well.

As internal auditors' you have the benefit of being there every day, so you can do little bits and pieces throughout the year or duration of your schedule.

Break down different parts of the business, different functions, different levels, different locations and schedule these smaller chunks throughout the period that your audit schedule covers. *side note – most internal audit schedules I see are 12 monthly.

Remember that audit schedules should be based on risk so make sure your schedule the higher risk ‘smaller chunks’ to be audited first and/or more often until you are confident, they are being managed and no longer a high risk.

High-risk areas can be influenced by new activities, products, services or locations in the business or previous nonconformances raised.

Step Two – Audit Scope

Anyone that knows me knows I love the scope because the scope tells us as auditors' where we need to go for our sampling - that's where the evidence is coming from.

As I mentioned with the internal audit schedule, break it down into small chunks as you don’t need to audit everything all at once.

First, up look at the scope of your whole certification or management system and see where you can break it down. For example, if your scope includes design and development, sales, marketing, implementation, training and delivery as activities, these activities can be broken down.

For instance, let’s pick Sales. You could plan to audit just the Sales department for your internal audit – a smaller chunk of the overall scope.

Actually, you could even break it down further than this if you have different sales divisions or different products. You could conduct your internal audit on sales – retail, then another internal audit on sales – wholesale. There’s 2 internal audits broken down for you. This keeps your internal audits manageable.

These smaller scopes of your internal audits then will go into your internal audit schedule (as per Step 1) to plan out all of the smaller areas to cover over the timeframe of the schedule.

Step Three – Just Ask Questions

Now that you have broken down your internal audits into smaller scopes and mapped them out on your internal audit schedule you can start conducting your internal audits.

Your mindset when conducting your internal audits can take the pressure off you which also takes the pressure off the auditee.

Just go into the audit with the notion of asking questions, learning, and being curious. Be a 5-year-old again and ask lots of questions so you can learn and understand.

Just enjoy the process - I know that sounds weird, but enjoy it, honestly. What a fantastic job we have where we can go along and ask people questions and they show us what they're doing. We can learn all these different ways that they’re doing things. And all we're doing in our head is then going okay, is what they're doing conforming to their system, or is there a system conforming to the standard?

When I’m auditing, I always use the words when I'm talking to different auditees - Can you help me to understand? This puts it back on the auditee and you are simply listening and asking more questions to ‘learn’.

Don’t put pressure on yourself, look at it as an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the business. And as a result, you will also find improvement opportunities – what a great job!

If you need any help with getting started or career advice, just let me know or comment below, and I'm only too happy to help!

Note – this is an excerpt from the Auditor Training Online Facebook Live, view the video here.