Top 10 tips for Auditors
1. The ISO 14001 auditors primary role is to find out how well the management system is working. What are the positives, what are the negatives. Where can the system be improved? A good auditor must know when and where the system should work better.
2. As an auditor, don’t think that you must find nonconformities or else the audit has failed. A very good management system may not have any nonconformities – you should recognise good practice where it is seen.
3. The auditor should be familiar with the audit procedure and fully understand how to complete the documentation. Check this well before the audit takes place.
4. Are you clear about the scope of your audit? Is it within a defined geographical area of the business, a process or a department. Don’t drift into areas that are outside the scope of your audit.
5. Checklists can be very useful as a guide however auditors should look beyond the standard checklist questions otherwise important issues may be overlooked.
6. Know the standard you are auditing against. Especially important is how to correctly interpret the meaning of the words in the standard so they make sense to you.
7. Timetables should be followed. However if an important issue is revealing itself and you need more time, let the next auditee be aware of any timetable changes that may result.
8. ISO 14001 auditors should never assume superiority during an audit. The auditee will resent the situation and consciously or subconsciously hinder the auditor in all kinds of ways.
9. At the start of a meeting with an auditee, remember the funnel approach – cast the net wide and then narrow the line of enquiry to the areas you are particularly interested in.
10. Don’t ever force through a nonconformity. A good auditor will enable the auditee to understand why a situation does not conform to stated requirements or good practice.
Top 10 tips for Auditees
1. Good audit management is essential. A simple and clear procedure with forms that have been well designed helps your auditors to carry out the work with less hassle and uncertainty.
2. No-one wants to audit a management system that has too many procedures that are long and complex. If users don’t feel comfortable with the management system, then auditors will also find the audit harder work than it should be.
3. The management representative should not conduct all the audits. There should be a team of qualified auditors, otherwise impartiality becomes compromised.
4. Carry out audit of departments and company processes rather than elements of the standard. Carrying out a process audit is more value to the organisation than using an ISO standard.
5. Is there a long gap between doing an audit and the report being produced? The findings should be written and presented at the end of the day while the issues are still fresh in the mind of auditor and auditee.
6. Organisations that have a senior management team that values the internal audit, generally have very effective management systems. Under these circumstances, the audit becomes a valuable tool to aid improvement and success.
7. The cost of training and developing an effective team of auditors is small compared to the potential benefits of a better management system on the bottom line.
8. Objective, undisputable evidence rules within an audit. That way, disputes about the validity of any audit finding will not arise. Select auditors who understand this.
9. Are the findings from audits dealt with within an agreed timeframe? Are they recurring from time-to-time? If so, the corrective action process itself may have been overlooked during an audit.
10. Internal audits are a highly effective way for enthusiastic staff to learn more about their organisation from the inside. This can only help ISO 14001 auditors with future career progression and development through the ranks.