Internal auditing in ISO9001-2008: who does yours?

One requirement of an ISO9001-2008 quality management system is to conduct internal audits. The ISO9001 standard requires that internal auditors be “qualified”, and that they don’t audit their own work. But what is “qualified”? Who decides this?

If you don’t want to take your valuable employees away from their important work, you can always hire an outside consultant/auditor to perform your internal audits. I do this for several local companies. An outside contractor won’t be auditing his own work since he/she doesn’t normally work at the company. An outside contractor auditor will usually have a fair amount of experience in conducting audits, so will get them done in a timely and professional manner, looking at all important aspects of each process that gets audited.

But there’s a case to be made for having employees conduct internal audits. Company employees performing internal audits may gain valuable knowledge about company processes other than their own. They may be able to identify nonconformances in products that an outside auditor would miss. But there are some potential downsides to having employees as internal audits too, at least for small companies without an full-time auditing staff. Having your press-brake operator audit the shipping process, and write up resulting corrective actions, might ruffle some feathers among people in shipping. And then you have to make sure your internal auditor employees have received adequate, documented training in order to be qualified auditors.

There are pros and cons to having employees perform internal audits. The ISO9001-2008 quality standard gives you the flexibility to decide who will perform your internal audits, and also lets you decide how your people will be qualified.

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