Learn what ISO 19011:2018 is all about, how it works, and how it can help your organization build a solid framework for auditing systems.
Published 29 Jul 2022
ISO 19011:2018 is a guidance document for organizations that are establishing audit programs and performing audits for existing management systems. It covers the entire lifecycle of auditing systems—from the blueprint to evaluation. The auditing guidelines rest upon seven principles and encompass continuous improvement strategies for a sustained audit implementation.
Now in its 2018 edition, ISO 19011 sets the standard for building a world-class auditing system for organizations. However, note that this standard doesn’t have a certification entailing specific requirements. Instead, it aids organizations in properly implementing ISO’s management system standards through cross-checking measures and thorough documentation, among other things.
ISO 19011 establishes benchmarks for a standardized and well-functioning audit system. It provides them with a solid framework to build their processes from, both for auditing management systems and establishing audit programs. As a result, organizations can plan, conduct, and manage audits in a systematic and objective manner.
Moreover, the ISO 19011 standard enables organizations to enhance their management systems through a rigorous auditing arm. It ensures conformity to ISO’s management system standards such as but not limited to the following:
While belonging to the same ISO 9000 family, these two ISO standards perform distinct yet complementary functions. Discover the differences and similarities between ISO 9001 and ISO 19011 through the comparison table below.
Within the ISO 19011 framework, an audit follows a methodical process to objectively examine and prove that an organization abides by specific rules, standards, and regulations. Proof often comes in the form of documents and reports of business operations, protocols, and practices relevant to the scope, objectives, and criteria of the audit plan.
Audits are typically classified into two types: internal and external. The sections below discuss how each of them works for an organization.
Internal audits, otherwise known as self-audits, pertain to auditing processes conducted inside the organization. With this type of audit, the organization (or an institution on its behalf) initiates an audit program to assess if its operations are efficient and aligned with statutory or standard requirements.
They also allow organizations to identify weaknesses in their processes and continuously improve their management systems.
On the other hand, external audits often involve parties outside the organization. They can stem from either of the following parties:
ISO 19011 outlines seven principles forming the cornerstones of audit processes and programs. They direct audit teams on the right path and ensure the effectiveness of an organization’s audit system. These guiding principles are as follows:
Successful audits become possible with the help of robust audit programs. After all, they steer auditors in the right direction by establishing a specific time frame and purpose for any audits to be conducted. Organizations can also scale their programs depending on their size.
An effective audit program consists of the following components:
Sustaining this program requires a consistent review and monitoring mechanism to check if the organization meets its objectives, identify areas that need change, and pursue continuous improvement.
Audits are necessary for ensuring conformity to specific local and international standards such as ISO. In connection with this, they will require your organization to fill various roles to help you achieve their targets.
Per most ISO standards, it’s important to keep in mind that your strategy will depend on the management system you plan to implement. After all, the standards for a quality management system would differ from an environmental management system.
Understanding the auditing process is key to its effective implementation. Read on to learn how this process works in the context of ISO 19011.
The initial phases of an audit consist of planning out details, ranging from the audit objectives to audit teams. The tasks involved in this stage of the auditing process include the following:
Upon finalizing the audit plan and objectives, it’s time to carry out the audit process. The audit team now must collect, examine, and verify evidence presented through internal documents, process reports, and other materials.
Once the audit team has completed their assessment, they will prepare an audit report and address their findings to the relevant persons, whether the upper management or the entire organization.
The auditing process doesn’t stop after sharing the results with the team. Beyond analyzing the existing documentary evidence, auditors must also recall and evaluate the overall process and results of their audits.
In particular, the audit team must perform the following functions:
These activities ensure that the audits follow the guidelines set in their audit program plan. They also open opportunities for organizations to enhance their existing systems and auditing mechanisms.
iAuditor by SafetyCulture offers solutions for conducting internal and external audits efficiently. This mobile-first platform supports organizations seeking to create audit programs and implement best practices for auditing through its suite of digital tools. Using iAuditor, you can do the following actions:
Leizel Estrellas is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. Her academic and professional training as a researcher allows her to write meaningful articles that create a lasting impact. As a content specialist, she strives to promote a culture of safety in the workplace through accessible and reader-friendly content. With her high-quality work, she is keen on helping businesses across industries identify issues and opportunities to improve every day.
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