Quality audits are an essential part of supply chain quality management and can dramatically improve business performance and reliability, whilst reducing risk.

Companies who regularly examine their quality management systems (QMS) and ensure conformance with defined processes are less likely to experience business failures such as lost commercial opportunities and potential government financial penalties.

Auditing can be carried out by a company’s internal audit team and usually assesses competency in line with the company’s internal quality management system and process. It can also be conducted by an external auditor working on behalf of a customer or a client. External auditors are generally trained and certified by an external independent body.

Internal Auditing

Internal auditing is an independent and objective evaluation of an organisation’s internal controls to effectively manage risk. An internal audit should monitor and ensure that any weaknesses are both identified and addressed. Companies often do not have the internal time or skill set to conduct internal audits and therefore appoint an external consultant to assist.

A consultant internal auditor will provide an independent assessment focused on non-conformities, gaps, improvements and operational efficiency for an established QMS. The consultant will also provide a report describing the internal QMS status, systemic issues, strengths and weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement.

Audits should be conducted by consultants with specific knowledge of the system or process which is being audited such as:

> ISO 9001, API Q1 & Q2, or other specifications

> Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS)

> Internal documentation (quality manuals, procedures, processes, SOPs, work instructions, records etc.)

> Special processes (NDT, welding, coating, heat treatment etc.)

Supplier Auditing

A Supplier Audit is a process through which organisations can determine whether businesses in their supply chain (suppliers) meet their expectations – usually for the quality of their services.

Supplier audits provide an assessment of the quality management systems and technical capabilities of a supplier to a company. There is an element of focus on a clients priorities such as supply chain improvement. Deliverables that you should expect from a supplier audit include a report describing the supplier’s quality management system, technical strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement.

A supply chain audit report can be invaluable to a company when deciding to add a new vendor/supplier or when evaluating existing suppliers.

Scope-of-audit options for suppliers include reviews of:

> Quality Management System (QMS)

> Specific processes by subject matter experts (NDT, welding, coating, heat treatment, etc.)

> Contract or purchase order process

> Internal documentation (quality manuals, procedures, processes, work instructions, records, etc.)

> Supplier capability assessment

> Supplier development projects for strategic partnerships

Audit Consultation

Audit consultants can help companies assess their individual quality requirements. An assessment of the systems and processes within an organisation can identify quality requirements that require documentation and process changes. An auditing consultant can provide you with a detailed analysis to assess if there are opportunities for improvement and will assist with:

> Establishing a new QMS from inception to certification

> Improving and strengthening a current QMS

> Developing a new supply chain evaluation process

> Improving the supply chain and reducing purchasing risk

An Audit consultant should be able to provide document creation services to help clients complete their quality documentation and meet their quality and compliance goals.

Typical documentation produced may include:

> Quality assurance policies and procedures

> SEMS plans, policies, and procedures

> Forms and templates

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