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Using Analytics to Plan Internal Quality Management System Audits

Preliminary risk assessment (e.g., Likelihood X Impact) and the results of previous audits (e.g., number of NCs) are often used to help prioritize the audit schedule. While these are worthwhile to consider, they do not necessarily reflect the real-time performance of the processes that could be included in the audit plan. This means many audits are likely investing time and human resources in looking at processes that are performing adequately, while others that might be at greater risk are not considered due to lack of preliminary insights into how they may be performing.

Those insights can be gained by using analytics to slice & dice data to look for patterns, outliers or other signals that a further investigation (the audit) is warranted. That is, rather than conducting the audit in order to see if there are any control issues, analytics helps determine ahead of time whether or not there are potential issues to be explored.

Given the importance of audits for helping ensure that management systems based on ISO 9001/14001/45001/20000 etc. are both in place and operating effectively, audit program managers must continually be searching for ways to maximize the yield from their efforts. Analytics is one new method to add to the audit planning toolbox.

Organizations are continually looking for ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their processes. The processes involved in managing an internal management system audit program (e.g., for ISO 9001, 14001, 45001, 22000, etc.) are no different, and are not deemed to be value-adding activities the customer is willing to pay for.

It is therefore incumbent on audit program managers to find ways to do more with less, and methods to focus audits where they are more likely to be needed or beneficial is one way to do this. While the concept of risk-based thinking isn't new, it is often done qualitatively versus quantitatively, and infrequently rather than as part of planning each audit.

This webinar will explain how analytics can be used to determine which processes warrant conducting an in-depth audit versus those that appear to be operating normally. Adding this to the audit planning process can help ensure that resources are being used judiciously.

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