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How can the quality of an auditing department be measured?

In companies with an established quality management system, the somewhat provocative attitude is often that if you are not measuring effectiveness you are almost certainly not being effective. A more moderate rationale for creating an auditing system for quality management systems becomes apparent after a little thought: If the effectiveness of a quality management system is not measured, the system itself becomes superfluous.

The driving force behind any worthwhile quality management system must be the quest for ‘business excellence’ within the framework of a continual process of improvement. And regular assessment of how much progress has been made is indispensable part of this.

Internal audits can verify adherence to self-set quality objectives and improvement measures. External audits are more suitable for assessing the overall quality level while providing fresh impetus for making further improvements.

There are two different kinds of external quality management system audit:

  • Peer reviews
  • External reviews

Peer reviews as the name suggests are carried out by peers from other internal audit departments or service providers. The IIA requires that a peer group consist of at least three audit departments or service providers that are independent from one another. And the quality management auditors put forward by the audit departments or service providers should ideally be those who possess additional skills. The first task of the peer group is to agree on and define an assessment framework.

Afterwards, peer reviews can be carried out at whatever intervals are desired. Using this approach, costs are usually limited to reciprocity and travel expenses for the auditors. A peer group also offers a good opportunity for benchmark setting, if the processes are of sufficiently high quality.

If no appropriate peer group can be found or if establishing an in-house assessment system is thought to be too time-consuming or if the objectivity of a peer group is called into question, then a review by independent auditors can provide a solution.

An external auditor generally uses a defined assessment system. In the German-speaking world – besides a considerable number of different individual solutions – the following systems have become established:

  • The German Institute for Internal Auditing (IIR) Auditing Standards (third standard) – based on the ISO 9000:2000 standard
  • The TQM system – based on the International IIA Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing

We are accredited advisors for the appraisal of internal audit departments according to the standards set by the German Institute for Internal Auditing.

In addition to the German standards, we also appraise internal audit operations on the basis of the IIA Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing. If required, clients can also take advantage of our extensive best practice experience by having us perform a thorough appraisal of their performance in this area. This optional service can be integrated into an assessment.

Our assessors have many years of management and auditing experience. This puts them in a position to be focused and targeted in their appraisal of auditing processes and the general working environment and to be precise and specific in identifying individual improvement measures.

In order to get an idea of what action will be necessary in the future, it is well worth considering a pre-audit.

More about pre-audits …