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Professional Services Case Study – Internal Audit

The Brief:

To conduct a series of internal audits for a professional services organisation in line with the requirements of the ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems standard.

The organisation had its annual surveillance audit scheduled within four months of contacting us. It’s management system was said to be well documented, but planned internal audits had not been completed due to a lack of resources. Demands on staff had increased in recent months with the organisation expanding its product delivery into more markets.

What we did:
We reviewed the findings of the last external audit and saw that there had been a number of recommendations noted in the audit report.

Generally, these centred around documentation control and refinements to record keeping. Many of these recommendations had not been implemented.

We reviewed the register used to log non-conformances and improvement recommendations and noted that there were a number of outstanding issues that dated back more than six months.

We identified at least six key documented procedures and conducted internal audits on them and their associated records. Concurrent with this was a review of the Quality Manual, various policies and gaining a greater insight of the overall management system and workflow.

Our Findings:
The findings of our audits reinforced the requirement to tighten up some of the record keeping, but also identified the need to update some of the documented procedures. Part of this included an opportunity to also rationalise some of the documented procedures.

As with many organisations, and in particular those that have undergone recent expansion, the completeness and timeliness of record keeping had lapsed a little. In addition, the procedures themselves had been originally documented more than two years earlier when the overall business structure and strategy were different. The organisation had moved on, but the procedures had not been consistently updated.

The Outcomes:
In identifying gaps in records and changes in documented procedures, we were able to focus the management team on specific changes that could be readily implemented.

Specific records and logs could be updated and procedures revised to reflect current practices.

As with many projects, a by-product was the increased communication and collaboration among the management team and between management and other staff. In improving the level of understanding across all staff, the management team were able to rectify some misconceptions and poor practices that had crept into the workflow. It also raised awareness of how the management system underpinned their operations and the need to keep procedures and records up to date.

After completing the internal audits, we were able to provide resources for guidance and facilitation of our recommended changes. We also assisted in establishing tools for data analysis and templates for improving various record registers and schedules.

And, YES, the organisation maintained its certification, without any non-conformances, following the subsequent external audit.

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