Why is it that Internal Audits are forgotten, or even worse feared? Why is it so many organizations of today place so much focus on the creation of Quality Procedures, Work Instructions, Forms, etc. but do not place the same focus on conducting internal audits of the quality system? Is it human nature? We all tend to be "gung-ho" about projects at the start, but the passion, and therefore the quality of the work, so often deteriorates over time.

The process starts as an assessment of new requirements, a detection of a gap or even an opportunity for improvement. This is where most of the effort is emphasized, the discovery phase, yet having a quality system in place is just the start of compliance.

After the creation of the quality system there are the typical training seminars or readings that are required, to show that the staff understand and follow the process. This eventually leads to the use of the new quality system instructions.

Regarding the practical validation of the quality system seems to be an afterthought, whether its related to a lack of desire, a failure to understand the need for, or even the belief that internal audits of the quality system are unnecessary. This could be for a multitude of reasons. Whether it be the acknowledgement that there is a cost associated with audits that take team-members away from value-added tasks. It could also be a strong belief that nothing could possibly be wrong. Lastly, some individuals just flat out fear audits.

It should be the focus of an internal auditor that audits are a means of training. The training is when quality system procedures/work instructions/forms are audited to see how they are utilized. Auditees can then see that there is value from a well informed auditor in how the auditor points out not only non-conformances, but how the auditor points out areas that could be improved upon and areas that are best practices. This style of training differs from the typical reading of procedures in that it's practical application training. Futhermore, internal audits can be used to not only provide evidence of compliance to externally auditing bodies but show evidence of an emphasis on continual improvement.

These are the reasons why internal audits should be planned accordingly and the plan should not slip. Otherwise the opportunity for training and improving not only the quality system documents but also the individuals utilizing the quality system is wasted. Internal audits are the completion of assessing quality systems and should be thought as just as important as the start of the quality system development.


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