How often should you conduct internal audits in your ISO9001:2008 quality system?

How often should you conduct your internal audits? Should you get them all out of the way once a year? Or should you do a little each month? Well, like so many things in life, the answer depends on you.

ISO9001:2008 required you to have a documented internal audit program. But the frequency of your audits is up to you, as long as your program is effective.

I know some small companies that simply hate to do internal audits, so they’ll call in a consultant once a year to get them all done over the course of a day or three. Their priority is simplicity and ease, they view internal audits as a necessary evil to maintain their certificate, something to suffer through, and, like ripping off a bandage, to be done as quickly as possible. While such an internal audit program meets the “letter of the law” in ISO9001:2000 (formerly ISO9000) it usually isn’t a very effective way of catching nonconformances in your quality system.

After some experience with your ISO9001:2008 quality management system, you’ll start to get a feel for which areas of your operation are prone to problems, and would benefit from more frequent audits. The flipside, of course, is that there may be processes in your company that run smoothly and won’t derive a benefit from frequent audits. You are free to change your audit schedule as often as you like.

While I understand many companies just want to get the audits over with, they’re not really reaping the possible benefits to an audit program. They’re going 11 months without checking things. Quality performance objectives should be measured as often as practical if you really want to know how you’re doing. Once a year just isn’t enough, if you’re serious about improving your quality.

I would suggest a better plan is to spread out your internal audits throughout the entire year, or maybe quarterly. Checking on your document status, personnel training, and process performance more often is a great way to catch problems in the early stages, possibly averting an expensive disaster down the road.

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2 Responses to “How often should you conduct internal audits in your ISO9001:2008 quality system?”

  1. Jeff Dempke says:

    We struggled with this same issue when we first achieved our certification. It was a rookie mistake having the management rep perform the internal audits and we didn’t want to pay our consultant to be in here to do it, so we trained two of our shop people who actually enjoy doing it.

    We’ve moved from the Shotgun approach of auditing everything in a few days to auditing 1 area a month for 3-5hrs. This also cuts down on the amount of Corrective Actions to deal with at any given time and keeps the Auditing knowledge fresh for the auditors.

  2. thirumaran says:

    Conducting internal audit is a vital tool to assess organization’s quality management system. The organization gets information in a planned way by conducting internal audit from a variety of sources.

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