How to Prepare for your External Audit

The final part, and perhaps the most nerve wracking part, of your ISO Certification Journey – External Audits can cause anxiety and tension in the workplace. 

What is an External Audit?

An external audit is the final stage before you become ISO Certified. An external auditor from a UKAS accredited Certification body will visit your organisation and will confirm if you’ve met the requirements for your chosen ISO Management System.

Here’s some tips from our Consultants and our Clients!

1. Raise Awareness – Tell Your Staff

Where possible, give staff a schedule so that they know where the auditor is going to be and when. Make sure they understand they must still take their breaks as normal, even if they are slightly delayed because they are talking to an auditor.

It is also a good idea to meet with staff who have responsibilities assigned and to hold a management review including the leadership.

2. Do an Internal Audit

Internal Audits are a valuable way of measuring the performance of a Management System or business activity in general. Assent have auditors that will assess your documentation, test your processes against that documentation and evaluate compliance through objective evidence.

Sometimes, findings will be raised during internal audits. Our auditors will provide information throughout the audit process, and a detailed description of any non-conformance, observation or improvement will be documented within the audit report.

Non-conformances are usually raised against a clause of the standard, allowing you to access further guidance. Findings should be seen as an opportunity to improve your management system and prepare for your External Audit.

3. Review & Update Everything!

Although ISO’s Annex SL has greatly reduced the amount of mandatory documentation, it’s likely you will still have a number of policies, procedures & processes which you should review and update where required.  

In addition to this you may have risk assessments, objective programmes, non-conformances or other actions which should be frequently revisited.

4. Housekeeping & Security

Simple maintenance of your premises can avoid Quality, Environmental, Safety, Information Security and other non-conformities.

Make sure your work environment is clean, tidy and safe! Brief the auditor on any expected fire alarms and other safety issues.

Make sure that all desks are clear and no sensitive information is left laying around, for example: passwords, client names and contact details.

When walking away from desks, make sure that computer screens are locked. See our video on 5 Tips for Keeping Data Secure in the Workplace.

For environmental audits, check for things such as screens not left on standby, rubbish sorted into the correct bins (no banana skins in the paper recycling bin!), lights turned off where possible.

5. Manage audit stress with our free Lorators e-course.

And… relax. Our sister company, Lorators, has a free e-learning course on managing the stress of an audit designed specifically for those who find Internal Audits and External Audits stressful events.

P.S. Here’s some more advice from one of our clients

After working with us at Assent to maintain ISO Certification at his company, IT Analyst, Jeremy Benson shares some of his tips on Surviving Your First External Audit.

Lauren Tobin
Lauren Tobin
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