Process Approach based auditing

Auditing always has been a challenge for the auditors for couple of reasons. One, that it tends to get “monotonous” at times where similar audit approaches are employed all throughout the month or year and secondly it becomes demanding to meet up to client’s expectations to recommend system improvements. Thus, an auditor is always balancing on a double-edged sword of his / her own professional monotony and client’s expectations of system improvement through our audits.

One good way to cope to this dual pressure is to tune-up to a different frequency of auditing. “Process approach” based auditing can come to rescue of the auditors from this demanding situation. A mundane audit where the auditor audits all the processes stand-alone and tries to find out extent of compliance to standard requirements, he/she ends up in gathering evidences which seldom show the “factual” picture. On the other hand, a “process approach” based audit opens up several avenues of facts.

Present practice of auditing

A standard Audit plan guides the audit process, where the departments / functions/ processes are listed at a particular time slot and audited stand alone. The audit team divides itself and scans different processes for compliance to the audit criteria.

There seems an inherent disconnect in this audit approach. The processes are taken as “individual” identity and this individualistic approach tends to provide evidences which are either prepared by the audit team or which do not depict the linkages of the processes, as the standard suggests.

On one hand the factual scenario is remains untouched and on the other hand, there are gaps in the linkages of these processes which remain unaddressed. Neither the auditor’s monotony is retorted nor the client’s expectations for improvement.

How to go about ??

Following approach may help to audit an organisation with true process approach avoiding monotony.

• Identify the most Pivotal process within the organization – mostly its Operations, but may vary depending on the type of organization. This can be identified during the site round, initial discussions with site teams or through previous experience of the organization.

• Begin the audit with the most Pivotal process - Having identified the process and after completion of Site round & Management function auditing, start the audit with that identified Pivotal process.

• Link the Pivotal process to all other processes – During the audit of the pivotal process, the auditor will surely find its links to other processes. For instance, while auditing Production the auditor may take links to other processes as below :

o Purchase process – RM used for the sample selected in production process, Supplier for RM, Supplier management of this supplier, his performance evaluation & verification of RM.

o Marketing process – Enquiry / Order review of the sample selected in production process, Customer of the same sample & his satisfaction level etc. o Training – Competence of operators / supervisors working on the sample selected in production process & management of competence in general.

o Maintenance – equipment used in the same sample & its break-down and preventive maintenance history.

o QA – calibration of instruments used to release the product of sample selected in production.

o So on & so forth.

Advantages of “Process approach” based auditing:

1. Gives a different flavour to the auditor and a break from a mundane audit.

2. Samples selected in all the processes are a “Surprise” element, thus avoids client’s preparation for the same.

3. Since the sample is a “Surprise”, it gives the auditor the factual picture of implementation of Quality Management system & he can arrive to the extent of compliance & thus arrive to good improvements / observations.

4. This auditing technique, once witnessed by clients / client representatives, enforces them to implement the management system effectively.


Unlike any other profession, auditor’s job is more refreshing and less monotonous for a simple reason that auditors get to meet new people, visit new organizations and learn new processes & technology. Auditing profession offers this lucrative job-profile where “change is the only permanent thing”. With such a picturesque job-profile, we should not make it repetitive and mundane through conventional auditing practices.

Keep innovating methods where in the jubilance of auditing profession remains intact.

About The Author

Rajan KaduskarHead - Aerospace Certification
TUV India Pvt Ltd