Records Review After a Quality Audit
When you enrol in the Diploma in Quality Auditing with LMIT, you’ll learn that reviewing of records is a very important part of any audit.
There are a number of techniques good auditors use to speed up this often quite tedious process.
We will consider some of them next.
During the audit process you are going to be presented with various forms of written evidence supporting the systems ability to maintain control.
It is an important skill to be able to examine and read these documents quickly and effectively. Often you must do this while the auditee is talking. Do not be afraid to use the auditee to help you establish the purpose of the documents and to grab and carry specific records for which you might ask.
Asking for help in finding information is a way of controlling the flow of the audit and slowing down the input of your enthusiastic and informative auditee.
When sampling records you can maximise the likelihood of finding significant issues by choosing a sample based on information you already have.
You might be aware that your company’s biggest client buys a certain type of product. As the biggest client, the risk of financial problems would be high if they became dissatisfied with quality. It might make sense to select some test results on this product to ensure they are within specification, and if not you can confirm that the defined action has been taken.
In some circumstances a specialist may be required to assist in the audit. Typically this may be required when the auditor’s background and/or qualifications don’t allow them to fully understand the parameters of an audit.
For example: An auditor whose background is mechanical engineering may be conducting an audit within a chemical laboratory. The auditor may not be able to grasp the parameters of the processes and may call upon a specialist to attend or advise.
Example two: Only one of your customers has a requirement specification imposed on the business. It would be sensible to establish that it has been incorporated at relevant levels of the business and that the records on the line again demonstrate that levels are being maintained.
Example three: You know that line three has a new operator and it increases the risk of them not following procedure due to lack of experience. Check records from that person’s shift to ensure no errors occurred.
Examples two and three are describing the ability to look for events that are unusual. The customer specific requirement, change in staff, or any other change such as materials change, new product, or equipment change/modification should all be accommodated in the system. By asking the questions in these areas the integrity of the system and its ability to cope with change is ensured.
The amount of sample depends upon the point at which the auditor feels confident they are obtaining a true picture of results.
Example four: You may be auditing purchase orders and the procedure states that the request for purchase must be signed by the relevant authority for all requests above $1000. After looking at ten purchase orders within the last week you notice only one of them wasn’t signed. You might conclude that usually they are signed.
Alternatively, the auditor may look at five orders per week for the past three weeks and find that they were all signed for the first week, but not for the latest two weeks. This may encourage the auditor to further evaluate this issue. Upon investigation they may find that a new purchasing clerk started two weeks ago and the Purchasing Manager has been too busy to train the clerk and the clerk wasn’t aware of the requirement for the orders to be signed.
The previous method of looking for new or unusual items is a way for auditor to find the only bad record out of hundreds they could have looked at. It is a skill that any auditor can learn very quickly.
First you need to establish with the auditee what the normal process is, who is responsible, how it fits together and what the identified control points are.
Once these two are established you can take your sample, preferably directed again to an area of significant importance as defined by the organisation’s goals or business plan.
Taking a bundle (e.g. twenty or so) you should be able to quickly glance at each one looking at:
- Signature – Is this the person or one of the people authorised to sign off?
- Test results – Do the results fall within the required range and if not what happened?
- Amendments – Has the record been altered in any way? Has something been crossed out or added without an authorised initial?
If the record is a requisition of order are there any items which appear unusual or poorly described?
Are specifications and limits clearly indicated if appropriate?
LMIT provides online training and certification courses on the Diploma of Quality Auditing, Diploma in Quality Management and the Quality Auditing qualification.
Published by: LMIT