As a Quality Manager / Internal Auditor, this would have been the number one question I was asked—from all levels of organisations, for both internal and external audits. Below are my three top tips for preparing for
Sidebar: In fact the correct response to any question relating to preparing for an audit is to say “don’t prepare”. The reason for saying “don’t” is that talking about preparing for an audit has negative connotations—that you’re not really doing things right every day. But saying “don’t” can leave people confused and nervous. And, there are definitely things that you can do to be prepared for an audit, so that the time will run smoothly. These tips would apply for internal and external audits, and across most management system or human service standards.
1. Your auditor will provide you with an audit plan, and this document shouldn’t be ignored—it will define scope and criteria, and will probably have a timetable of the day. Look at what the auditor will be assessing—training, client admission processes, complaints process—and have those records ready, such as your training attendance records, referral register or complaints register. Usually, though, auditors will pre-select or select their own client files to view. Having records out and ready saves time on the day.
2. The auditor will need to interview staff (they can interview clients too, but this is always pre-arranged), especially at supervisory level, so it is best to ensure that the right staff are available on the day. You can ask the auditor to set interview times in advance. If staff are nervous about being interviewed, they can usually be interviewed in a group. Preparing staff by sharing the audit plan can also help, if they understand what they’ll be asked in advance.
3. Know your improvements! Standards within human services in Australia operate under a continual improvement framework. So the big thing that auditors will want to discuss is what improvements have been made, how they are identified, and how you have measured them. Have your improvement plan ready.
I do believe that the above are the only ways to prepare for an audit—to do anything else would be dressing up how you really do things. So Be Prepared, but Don’t Prepare.
Thanks for reading,
The Quality Nerd loves all things Quality Management and Internal Audit...too much is never enough!