In this fourth episode of Kellerman Consulting’s internal audit video series, we are going to discuss how to properly address non-conformances or opportunities for improvements discovered over the course of an internal audit.
This topic was also covered in our video series on corrective actions and preventive actions, but corrective actions and preventive actions as a result of internal audits are a special circumstance and require a special review.
In this episode we are going to look at how to properly record a non-conformance finding, how to schedule a corrective action and how to follow up on those corrective actions to make sure they remain in place once completed.
Throughout a properly conducted audit, the auditor works through the checklist tool or pre-determined questions The answers and records presented in response are either correct for the organizational requirements, or they will differ from those requirements.
When answers and records match organizational requirements, these are considered conforming, and when they differ from organizational requirements they are non-conformances.
A third type of findings is one where the auditor and auditee discover an action that may be inherently correct, but could be performed in a clearer or better way. These we can refer to as opportunities for improvement. These are not necessarily errors, but are observations where changes could improve the quality or safety of operations.
All findings, conformities, opportunities for improvement and non-conformances need to be recorded on the audit form . However, with conformities and opportunities for improvement we only need to record those outcomes, and are not required to follow up as part of the internal audit process.
With all non-conformances, we must follow up promptly following the completion of the internal audit, and we also must plan and complete corrective actions for those non-conformances to ensure they do not show up the next time we audit that part of operations. there will need to be significantly more information recorded.
A very important distinction to note here is the difference between a correction and a corrective action. A correction is an action that is performed as a result of the audit to eliminate the actual non-conformance. A corrective action is an action taken to eliminate the “root-cause” of the non-conformance.
A corrective action is required for every non-conformance, regardless of whether or not a correction is made during the audit. All corrective actions must have a completion date, determined by management and must be signed off following completion within the assigned date.
With all corrective actions, the finding itself, any immediate correction performed, and the corrective action must be presented to leadership following every audit.
Lastly, each internal auditor in a facility should at some point during the audit review previous non-conformances from the last audit to verify that the previous actions taken in response to those corrective actions are still in place.
Completed internal audits, carried out according to the scheduled frequency, with independent, properly trained staff that using an appropriate audit tool or checklist once implemented are a cornerstone of a well prepared operation.
In our next episode we are going to discuss software solutions for auditing and what to look for if a technological solution is desired.
Thank you for watching. For free downloads to accompany this video series, visit the free training videos & resources page of our website.