A quality audit is a review in which an auditor analyzes and verifies various records and processes relating to a company’s quality program. In general, the purpose of a quality examination is to determine whether the company is complying with its quality program or whether it needs to make changes to its business practices. A company may also perform a quality audit in order to determine whether it is complying with certain quality standards, like those set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9000. Simply put, the ISO 9000 is a certification that a company is following formal business procedures.
Usually, a quality audit is an external audit, meaning it is conducted by an independent auditor or team of auditors who have expertise in the area. A company may also elect to perform an internal audit of its quality control systems on a periodic basis. Members of the audit team are typically professionals who have extensive knowledge about auditing standards, procedures, and principles. In addition, auditors should have hands-on experience with examining, evaluating, and reporting on whether each aspect of a quality system is deficient or satisfactory.
In a typical quality audit, the auditor first formulates a system audit plan. As a general rule, this plan usually details the timeline, scope, and location of the audit. The plan also lists out any written documentation that will need to be reviewed as well as any interviews that will need to be conducted. For example, an auditor usually needs to review any of the company’s written quality management policies, procedures, and manuals. When the plan has been prepared, the auditor submits it to the company for approval.
Once the audit plan has been approved, the auditor generally meets with any individuals at the company who are responsible for the company’s quality program. The auditor also examines any applicable records and investigates whether the company’s businesses practices align with its written quality program. If data suggests that the company is not complying with its quality program, the auditor will investigate and document this information. Additionally, the auditor will note any areas in which the company is complying.
At the end of the quality audit, the auditor prepares a report, which details the overall findings. The report customarily contains a summary of all of the evidence that was reviewed, including a description of any areas in which the company is or is not conforming to its quality program. Usually, the report also details the auditor’s overall conclusion and rating of the company’s quality program. In addition, most reports provide the company with detailed recommendations for improving its quality program and operations.