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6 tips to ace your ISO audit

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An external audit is the final step before obtaining your ISO certification. The auditor will ensure your documentation meets all the requirements of the standard. He or she will also make sure that all procedures and processes are correctly followed.

Depending on the findings, the auditor will either recommend you be granted your certification or require corrective actions before you can be accredited.

Here are six tips to impress the auditor and obtain your ISO certification on the first try.

1. Be well-prepared

The ISO certification should be a living management process that is constantly updated and optimized. For that to be true, you have to establish a schedule for tasks, internal audits and reviews—and stick to it. The worst thing you can do is wait a month before the audit and then try to rush to complete everything.

2. Take internal audits seriously

Holding a rigorous internal audit will allow you to catch any serious non-conformity issues before the external audit. The internal audit can also prepare staff for the interview process.

3. Implement corrective actions

You should take corrective actions to limit recurrent problems as soon as they are identified. A single occurrence of a non-conformity problem will not endanger your ISO certification, but recurrent problems require corrective actions. A major problem found by the auditor could delay your certification and leave you scrambling to establish a process to fix the issue as quickly as possible.

4. Don’t forget your management review

Your management review looks over your entire quality management system at least once a year. Your top managers should be involved to review your quality policy, objectives for the next year, customer feedback, non-conformity issues and corrective actions, the status of internal audits as well as any changes to processes and regulations. The management review has to be a thorough, well-documented meeting that will result in the creation of an action plan to resolve issues identified during the meeting. Your management review should be done well in advance of an audit so changes can be implemented.

5. Correctly monitor objectives

New ISO norms have higher requirements with regards to setting, monitoring and adjusting objectives internally. The auditor will expect to see you have tracked your progress on meeting objectives over time. Don’t hesitate to adjust objectives according to business demands. In a downturn, for example, it is perfectly normal to lower sales objectives to reflect the changing economic environment.

6. Ensure that everything is clean

It’s important to make sure the workspace is clean and well-organized. Managers should do a factory tour before the audit to make sure that everything is in the right place.

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