Quality Standards and Internal Audit Programs

What are the requirements of ISO 9000?

Discussing the requirements of ISO 9000, it is essential to elaborate on what ISO 9000 is. ISO 9000 serves as the primary set of rules quality management has to follow when it comes to the establishment and definition of the international quality management standards. With the help of ISO 9000, companies can manage their quality more efficiently by documenting the exact structure of a quality system outlined in it; one of the main benefits of ISO 9000 is its universality and applicability to any organization regardless of its size, specialization, or industry in which it functions (“What is the ISO 9000 standards series?” 2017).

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The primary requirements of ISO 9000 can be subdivided into several groups based on the topics that they cover. In particular, there are such aspects of requirements as management responsibility, quality system, design control, contract review, document control (that involves all the documents reflecting the interactions between customers and the company personnel, product descriptions, and traceability), inspections and tests, and quality records and documentation (“ISO 9000 requirements,” 2017).

Also, some of the most recent revision of ISO 9000 established that the essential principles of quality management on which it should focus include such factors as customer focus (that consists of the measures of customer satisfaction, needs, relationships, and expectations), leadership (that covers interactions of the management with the employees and their empowerment and recognition, as well as the general goals and vision of the company), engagement of people (that involves the company’s ability to include the people and use their abilities, promoting lifelong learning, professional improvement, and offering timely feedback and evaluation), evidence-based decision-making, process approach, relationship management (that includes the creation of an optimized system of resource and cost management based on collaboration and sharing), and improvement (that represents the aim at the constant progress that is promoted and celebrated) (“What is the ISO 9000 standards series?” 2017).

What is the role of the quality manager of the internal audit program?

In an internal audit program, quality managers follow the requirements outlined in ISO 9001:2008 that present a set of mandatory tasks such as control of documents and quality records, control of non-conforming products, corrective actions, and preventative actions (Tricker, 2016).

Just like all other procedures, actions, and processes in a company, internal audits need to aim to achieve and deliver the highest quality. To provide the services of the best quality, the leader of an internal audit program is required to have a clearly outlined plan highlighting the major objectives of the activity and aligning them with the tasks and processes that will be carried out to meet the goal (“Quality and internal audit,” 2017). Also, the entire program must agree with the established code of ethics and avoid breaking the ethical rules and creating concerns. Moreover, the final stage of the internal audit program needs to include such aspects as the reflection on the work that was done, lessons learned during the experience, and plans and recommendations for future improvement (The Institute of Internal Auditors, 2012).

Also, for the internal audit tasks to go as planned and deliver high-quality performance, the entire activity needs to adhere to written policies and regulations, be focused on matching the expectations of all the stakeholder groups involved or affected, aim at adding value to the company performance and optimization of its processes and operations, and make sure that the resources gathered for the internal audit program are effectively managed and utilized during its implementation (The Institute of Internal Auditors, 2012).

Also, gaining external perspective on the work that was done is another important and highly beneficial action that could be accomplished with the help of specialized services, professionals, and organizations offering the review of the internal audit program regarding its quality and the degree to which it matched the standards of ethics and other main requirements.

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What are the eight steps of the internal audit program?

Any internal audit program could be organized following the eight basic steps.

The first step is for the audit professionals to identify all the company areas that require auditing; this step could cover a wide range of complex and simple processes and activities. For higher efficiency, the processes that will be reviewed during an internal audit should be documented in an orderly manner with the inclusion of all their components and operations (Lotich, 2015).

The second step of an internal audit program is establishing the exact frequency with which auditing needs to be done. In particular, this step is important because different departments may need to be audited more often than others (Lotich, 2015).

The third step of the list involves creating an audit calendar – a structured and organized approach to the process that will allow making sure that all the tasks and functions are completed on time and according to the quality standards and instructions (Lotich, 2015). Also, a calendar will help create a clear plan of all the audits scheduled within a certain period.

The fourth step is informing the departments that will undergo audits about the programs and plans. This aspect is an important ethical action for the auditors; it also helps increase the program’s efficiency by engaging the employees and managers and letting them prepare all the necessary documents needed for the audit. An unscheduled surprise audit should only be carried out in cases when illegal or unethical activities are suspected in certain parts of a company (Lotich, 2015).

The fifth step involves preparing the professionals included in the audit program who need to approach the task with a deep knowledge of policies, documents, and practices that they will review (Lotich, 2015). A high level of professional readiness of the auditors will also help save the time of the program.

The sixth step includes the auditor’s interactions with the employees of the department under review to learn about the tasks that they have to carry out, familiarization with the working process, and the policies that regulate it (Lotich, 2015). Further, the employees’ perceptions and understanding of their tasks should be compared to the vision of their functions in the handbooks and policy books. The major function of this step is to establish whether or not additional training is required for the workers.

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The next step involves the documentation of the audit results, findings, and observations. The purpose of this step is to reflect on the gaps in performance and compliance and the recommendations as to how these gaps can be addressed in the future (Lotich, 2015).

The final step is to report the findings and allow the reports to be reviewed by the top management and the company’s authorities to create a plan as to future actions.

What steps can a customer-oriented organization undertake to ensure that customer needs are effectively identified?

To identify and match the customers’ needs effectively, customer-focused companies need to fulfill various tasks. The first task is to identify the client segment and its major characteristics, demographic features such as age and gender, and the average level of income, professions, and preferred leisure activities. The next task is to understand their most commonly used shopping methods and their reasons to purchase the company’s services or goods. Finally, the company managers need to assess the customer’s expectations regarding the distributed goods or services, their readiness to pay, and the perceptions of the brand or company itself (“Identifying customer needs,” 2017).

What are the supplier’s evaluation steps?

When it comes to evaluating the suppliers, the companies could focus on the 10 Cs that represent the set of the most important features based on which the companies could adjust their decision-making regarding the choice of a supplier. In particular, the 10 Cs include such aspects as commitment (the supplier’s dedication and integrity), capacity (the ability to match the expectations of the company), competency (the level of professionalism and experience presented by the supplier), consistency, cash (financial security is a necessity for a good supplier), cost (the cost of the product offered by the supplier), control (the supplier must be in control of their operations and policies), communication (the supplier’s readiness to stay in communication and inform about decisions or possible changes), cleanliness (dedication to sustainability and environmental policies), and culture (organizational culture based on strong and healthy values) (“10 Cs of Supplier Evaluation,” 2017).

What is the purpose of ISO 14000?

The primary purpose of ISO 14000 is to ensure that the companies adhere to the values and requirements of sustainable development and that their businesses do not produce excessive harm to the environment in the form of air pollution, soil, and water (Tricker, 2016). Practically, ISO 14000 functions in a manner very similar to that of ISO 9000 but in addition to making sure that the operations and practices of a company follow the norms and standards of quality, this set of standards is also designed to check how well the company’s values and operations are aligned with the most recent environmental policies and requirements.

The major goals of ISO 14000 are the following:

  • Ensuring the company’s compliance with the environmental policies and laws.
  • The implementation and maintenance of the environmental management system that establishes clean and green practices throughout all the operations and processes.
  • The provision of high-quality performance, services, and products to the customers and other stakeholders.
  • The alignment with self-established policies and visions.
  • Self-declaration of the company’s conformity with environmental standards and practices.
  • The engagement of third-party observers checking on the integrity and quality of the activities mentioned above (Tricker, 2016).

References

10 Cs of Supplier Evaluation. (2017). Web.

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Identifying customer needs. (2017). Web.

The Institute of Internal Auditors. (2012). Quality assurance and improvement program. Web.

ISO 9000 requirements. (2017). Web.

Lotich, P. (2015). 8 steps to performing an internal audit. Web.

What is the ISO 9000 standards series? (2017). Web.

Tricker, R. (2016). ISO 9001:2015 for Small Businesses (6th ed.). Routledge.

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