FSSC 22000 and SQF Internal Audit Tips
Internal Audits are a Management System’s best friend. Audit findings lead to great improvement in the effectiveness and efficiency of the system. How can you make your internal audit program work for your organization? Here are some tips to help get the most from your internal audits.
Training your internal auditors
You must have an internal audit team and be able to show records of effective training for each of the auditors. Training should include internal audit steps, requirements, and techniques. It should also cover the requirements of the standard, and basics of prerequisite programs and HACCP so the auditors are able to effectively evaluate processes.
Auditors need to learn how to schedule and prepare for audits and how to communicate with the department being audited so they are able to have a well-organized and effective audit. There are also important requirements that auditors must be aware of such as the requirement to follow up on previous audit findings.
The technique is important to the success of the audit. The questions that are asked and the method of following audit trails will be key in evaluating the effectiveness of the system.
Provide your internal auditors with training that will address all of the topics listed above. You may have an experienced auditor in your facility that can conduct audit training. Other options include looking for group courses offered by training organizations, calling in a consultant to train your team, or using Registrar Corp’s convenient Online Internal Auditor Training courses.
Planning your audits
- Make sure the authority of the audit team is established. This will increase the cooperation from auditees. Ensure the audit team’s success with effective internal auditor training.
- Decide what areas of the company will be audited together and the frequency of the audits. Prepare a yearly audit schedule and distribute.
- Develop an audit plan. Decide what other audit resources are needed – checklists, other auditors?
- Determine the purpose of the audit – is it an overview of the area being audited or is it to concentrate on a specific system within the area?
- Determine the purpose of the audit – is it to comply with government regulations, quality standards, internal procedures and system?
- Hold a meeting with the auditors to discuss the plan, purpose, and scope of the audit.
- Read the documents you will be auditing against. Know what they say. Develop questions to ask the auditees.
- Conduct an opening meeting with the auditees.
During the Audit
- Be professional at all times. Avoid being judgmental.
- Follow safety procedures, clean room procedures, and all other required procedures.
- Explain the purpose of the audit to the auditees.
- Answer questions or discuss compliance problems brought to your attention by auditees.
- Be flexible – if you find a potential problem not within the scope of the audit – evaluate the potential risks of the problem if left unaddressed.
- Encourage honesty with the auditees.
After the Audit
- Hold an auditors meeting to discuss the closing meeting content.
- Hold a closing meeting with all auditees involved with the audit. First, point out what was done well. Second, address the nonconformances and ensure the auditees understand the nonconformance and what part of the standard is not met.
- Issue the audit report in a timely manner.
- Encourage auditees to decide on the corrective actions. Allowing auditees to have input will give them ownership in implementing changes.
- Assist those responsible for completing the corrective actions by setting reasonable deadlines. The correct action deadlines may vary depending on the severity of the noncompliance.
- Be available and willing to help the auditees.
- Ask for feedback on how you and your audit team were perceived – adjust your approach if necessary.
One last tip, involve people!
Use audits as opportunities to train others. Ask for a volunteer (who is not an auditor) to walk through the audit process with you as an assistant. This will provide others with a better understanding of what audits are and why they are necessary.
Involving people creates a feeling that everyone is a vital contributor to the goal of the company – compliance.