The truth doesn’t hurt. In fact, the truth can bring to light areas of operational weakness or dysfunction that senior management can't see because they are too close. Although it may be uncomfortable to acknowledge these problems, in the end it will be far less painful to learn about these issues from an internal audit than from competitors in the marketplace or from a third party certification body.
When it’s time for an audit, the wisest members of senior management seek out unbiased and impartial auditors to probe the darkest areas of financial obscurity or process inefficiency. Internal audits, however, can be compromised either by subtle influence or the appearance of influence. That’s why external consultants have become increasingly popular as the leads on internal audits.
Consider the following 5 benefits that a third party consultant trained in ISO quality management standards can provide for internal units.
Unbiased reporting requires more than the absence of influence. It requires the absence of even the suggestion of influence. Outside auditors who have do not have any other reporting relationships within the company can assure stakeholders that the information in the report is completely independent of the processes that are being audited, as well as free of influences from the auditees. They bring at very least a fresh set of eyes that can swiftly identify non-conformances and opportunities for improvement that someone working in the business might not be able to see from familiarity and habituation to the way things have always been done.
2. Exposure to Many Organisations
Many businesses faces the same categories of challenges, so can prove to be highly valuable to bring in an external consultant who brings in experience from across many organisations. That consultant will have seen and worked through many ways of approaching the same issues within any given industry. They bring this knowledge to an internal audit and can use it to recommend improvements to obtain better results from your quality management system. On a quarterly internal audit schedule a consultant could have conducted audits across 20 or more clients. When a consultant brings this specialised knowledge to their jobs, they can then recommend improvements to obtain optimised results from your quality management system.
3. Trained Professionals
All auditors are human and that means that each one comes with their own set of individual experiences, beliefs and thought patterns. In order to introduce greater equity and fairness into the audit process, organisations have agreed on international standards and procedures, which are laid out in ISO 19011:2018. Companies can present their stakeholders and third-party certification bodies with more authoritative reports when they have been conducted by professional internal auditors who have completed Lead Auditor training and conduct audits every day of the week.
4. Elimination of the Too Many Hats Problem
Two of the defining characteristics of life in the 21st century are the velocity of information along multiple channels and the collapse of business cycles. There is more data to process and less time to do it in. The result is that people in businesses have too many hats to wear and conducting internal audits can slip through the cracks. Generally, the responsibility for conducting internal audits within an organisation is not allocated to someone in the full-time role of Quality Manager. Instead, this tends to be simply added to the list of tasks assigned to someone on staff. By signing a long-term agreement with an outside consultant to conduct periodical internal audits, the company offloads that responsibility and simultaneously assures that the company won't fall behind on internal audit schedules.
5. Cost-effective Resourcing
Not all companies have the resources to hire the audit professionals that they really need in order to excel within their chosen field. Smaller business owners have a great opportunity to level the playing field when they bring in an outside consultant so they can start incorporating insights from experienced experts. This is how even small businesses can utilise high calibre resources for the fraction of a price to what it would cost to hire in-house. When time and resources are tight, it makes more sense for small business owners to bring in the talent they need rather than try to get up to speed themselves.
Bringing the Audit Professionals to You
Long before your next internal audit is due, it makes sense to look into your options for outsourcing the project to take advantage of the five benefits listed above. Reach out to a professional audit consultant trained in ISO standards for quality management by contacting the specialists at the Compliance Council (ISO Templates parent company). We can help you define precisely what makes the most sense for your company based on your chosen industry and your company's growth stage. A professional audit from an outside professional can even help your company find problems that you didn't know you had. This will show you how to operate more efficiently and productively, enhancing your overall financial performance while it keeps you in compliance with regulations. That would certainly take the sting out of a painful audit