Internal ISO Audits: A Job For The Pros

In late 2019, ClearPivot Digital Marketing contacted me about doing some writing for them or, more specifically their clients, and in 2020 I began an ongoing gig writing to Cavendish Scott, a firm that offers an expansive suite of services, including consulting, training, and auditing in the standards published by the International Standards Organization. The standards are inspired largely by management systems methodology promulgated in the 20th Century by William Edwards Deming, who is pictured on the landing page of this website. In addition to writing a monthly blog, I wrote some "pillar" copy, which is long-form narrative. In this case it consisted of 5,000 worlds about ISO auditing, a field where Cavendish Scott leads. "Internal ISO Audits: A Job For The Pros" was a favorite entry of mine, partly because of the ground-truth-type information provided by two outstanding Cavendish Scott auditors.

Internal ISO Audits: A Job For The Pros

One of the most important decisions organizations face when planning their annual internal audits is whether to perform the function in-house or call in professionals. Without question, Cavendish Scott recommends professional, full-time auditors.

Pros Bring Depth of knowledge

All Cavendish Scott auditors take the 40-hour IRCA-accredited ISO 9001:2015 lead auditor class and pass the IRCA exam. But that’s only the beginning. The most experienced Cavendish Scott auditors spend significant amounts of time mentoring and training each new auditor.

Advantages Of A Pro Audit

Advantages of Cavendish Scott audits include the following.

Breadth of experience: Other responsibilities often leave in-house auditors with little time for audits. On the other hand, each Cavendish Scott auditor is involved in approximately 50 to 70 audits a year, working with organizations of various sizes and in a range of industry sectors. The exchange of knowledge and understanding that comes from working in teams further extends the breadth of experience they bring to audits.

Outside perspective: Whether it’s a process or a material object, something that’s been around for a while can be taken for granted. In a typical example of an internal audit performed by Cavendish Scott, there was hodge-podge of uncontrolled documents on walls and machines. They were so much a usual part of the environment that personnel no longer noticed them. When the auditors arrived they were immediately drawn to the discordant display.

Inside neutrality: Internal auditors have a position within the hierarchy of their organizations. Especially when changes are in order, it’s difficult for personnel to audit leadership and management even though that’s part of a full-system audit. Cavendish Scott auditors are always willing to speak truth to power when reporting to organizational leadership.

Lack of disruption: Because an internal audit by Cavendish Scott requires minimal time from a client’s staff, disruption of usual operations is also minimal. Whenever possible, Cavendish Scott conducts simultaneous audits for organizations that are certified in multiple standards. When needed, several personnel are assigned to an audit, expediting its completion.

Ongoing support: Cavendish Scott auditors are full-time employees, not subcontractors. Because they work in teams, clients can always reach someone to help with their concerns, even if their primary consultant isn’t available. Besides being available for the duration of an audit, Cavendish Scott auditors are available for additional support as needed.

Sound Advice on Corrective Action: Cavendish Scott auditors provide coaching and teaching while auditing. They identify improvement opportunities and best practices, and address issues and problems that go beyond minimum requirements. In one case an auditor noticed that the terms and conditions a client had issued contained a serious penalty for not meeting an on-time delivery. By pointing this out, the auditor saved the grateful owner from potentially thousand of dollars in penalties.

Readiness for other audits: In most sectors, certification is voluntary, but maintaining certification for any organization requires at least two kinds of audits. In addition to internal audits, external or registration audits are required for all and second-party audits are required for some standards. When followed, the advice offered by Cavendish Scott auditors positions clients well for good outcomes on other audits.

Pro Audits Mean Quality Management

Cavendish Scott has sometimes performed internal audits for a few years for clients who then decide to perform the function in-house. Then something happens. They don’t get the internal audits completed or they soft-pedal the audit, maybe because they don’t report findings or they don’t know what to look for. When the registrar comes in for their annual audit, major nonconformities are identified, jeopardizing certification and possibly leading to a panicked phone call to Cavendish Scott.

Cavendish Scott finds that a proactive plan that includes professional internal audits provides valuable protection for clients’ investment in ISO certification and is an essential element of a quality management system.

Cavendish Scott offers consulting, training and auditing to help organizations obtain and maintain certification in a full range o