All top sports professionals and teams watch the replay. That is how they learn what they do well and what they need to change. Could internal audits be like watching the replay?

Do Internal Audits drive Continual Improvement?

Are internal audits any real benefit to an organisation? For years I lectured clients that internal audits should lead to process improvement. Yet few are the organisations where this is fully realized.

Internal audits are a requirement for certification to many modern ISO standards such as ISO9001, ISO45001, ISO14001, ISO27001… the list goes on. The purpose of the audit is essentially two-fold:

  • are you meeting your own requirements for quality, safety, etc?
  • are you meeting the requirements of the standard?

Internal audits are boring

Bored yet? Yes, internal audits don’t have a good name. They can be seen as time-wasting, stopping any real productive work, not adding value. But there are plenty of examples where a fresh set of eyes picks up a better way of doing something, a step that is being missed, or other opportunities for improvement. Often the auditee knows what could be done better but isn’t necessarily empowered to change the process, and the internal audit can capture their ideas. Value can be added but rarely is it measured.

Continual Improvement Program give measurable results

All this focus on internal audits by the organisation and the certification bodies, however, is missing what I see as the crux of the ISO standards – Continual Improvement. A conscious Continual Improvement program may or may not integrate the internal audits, but should focus on identifying priority or problem areas, then working through a structured problem-solving process to resolve. By following a structured process, the results will be measurable in one or more of the key areas of time, cost, and customer satisfaction.

Bring the team together

A well-designed continual improvement program engages employees in process improvement. Instead of whingeing or ignoring waste and inefficiencies, they are empowered to come up with improvements that make them and the customer happy.

Watching the Replay

A Continual Improvement Program is like watching the replay. What is the organisation doing really well and what needs to be refined? If an organisation wants to excel then they need to critically analyse their play against their results and make the necessary adjustments and improvements.

Is your organisation aiming for excellence?