In the Quality Auditing qualification you’ll learn about the different components of Audit Checklists.
What is an Audit Checklist?
Put simply, it’s a checklist for auditors to utilise throughout the audit to ensure that they have covered all of the items they need to in order to form a sound analysis and report.
While a checklist is a memory tool, it may not be followed to the letter. In fact, it is encouraged that the checklist be used only as a guide. Sticking to the checklist may prevent an auditor from further exploring audit trails that they may otherwise have not have known about until they started interviewing.
So what sorts of items could your checklist include?
- A marked up copy of relevant procedure(s)
- Listed key points
- Check sheet or table
- List of questions.
Let’s further explore the different types of Audit Checklists that may be prepared for your audit.
Copy of procedure
This type of checklist is common and requires the auditor to highlight key points or steps in the procedure and write questions the auditor plans to ask.
The benefit of this type of checklist is that all of the steps of a particular process is often contained within the one document and as such provides a simple overview for the auditor to continue to check back on.
One of the challenges often faced with this type of checklist is when an auditor doesn’t exhibit flexibility with the written word within the procedure and doesn’t consider the possibility of the procedure being incorrect or no longer applicable to the area being audited.
Key Points/Control Points
Every specification, regulation, flow chart or procedure contains key points or control points.
These are specific statements or parameters identifying one or more of the following:
- Test limits
- Process control limits
To develop a measure of the effectiveness of the area being audited these points of data must be first sifted through from the many words that surround them.
The ability to ‘pick out’ key requirements from documents is one of the primary skills that successful auditors must possess, as auditors may come across many documents throughout an audit of which an overview of the requirements needs to be promptly drawn.
One way to think of flow charts is to consider a map or picture that illustrates the ‘direction’ a process takes and the key points required before moving through the next part of the flowchart.
An auditor may prepare a flowchart checklist in one of two ways:
- Mark up a copy of a procedural flowchart that the auditee has in place. Similar to the earlier two checklist types, the auditor can highlight key points and write questions within the copy.
- Draw up a flowchart of the process you have identified after having read the procedure, enabling you a ‘mental picture’ of the order questions you may ask to achieve a flow of information you obtain during the audit.
This type of checklist is often used to confirm that specific parameters have indeed been met throughout a process. It usually contains a list of requirements in one column and a column for ticking whether the requirement has been met.
An example of where this type of checklist may be used is in the case of a Safety Hazard Audit (or Job Safety Analysis), the questions within the check sheet may be something along the lines of:
- Are isolations in place and proven effective?
- Are the appropriate MSDS’ available at point of use?
- Are tools and equipment in good condition and correct for the task?
- Have the correct permits/clearances been obtained?
- Can the job proceed safely?
This type of audit checklist is better suited to ‘inspection’ type audits as they typically require a confirmation that something has or has not occurred.
This type of check list would probably not be suitable for process audits that require the auditor to investigate the effectiveness of the process.
List of questions
Auditors may simply list the questions they wish to ask during the audit to confirm compliance or investigate effectiveness.
The type of checklist that would work best for you is entirely up to you (or the Lead Auditor in the case of an audit team).
Auditors select the type they are most comfortable with, ensuring they will cover all the bases.
- Your preferred type may be a selection of all of the above.
- Whatever your preference all checklists should allow for:
- Checking compliance with key points/control points
- The flexibility to follow audit trails not previously anticipated
- The ability to measure the effectiveness of the process(es)
- Ensuring good time management of the audit
- Ensuring your audit stays within its scope.
Are you ready to perform the audit?
Let’s check if you are ready. Have you:
- Confirmed and documented the audit plan with the auditee
- Allocated audit team roles and responsibilities where required
- Discussed arrangements with all relevant parties; i.e. auditee, audit team
- Obtained copies of necessary audit forms
- Obtained a copy of the relevant procedures
- Confirmed the Audit Criteria
- Performed a Document Review
- Prepared an Audit Checklist.
If you have ticked all eight steps, you are now ready to perform the audit.
Related Article: Diploma Quality Assurance Brisbane – Creating a QA Manual
Published by: LMIT