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by Nora Milley


Internal audits are like an annual check-up with the doctor, or a regular teeth-cleaning appointment with the dentist, or the routine oil changes we do to our cars; they are both important and necessary.

("Can you take another deep breath?" Image: "Check up," by kennymatic, on Flickr via Creative Commons.)

(“Can you take another deep breath?” Image: “Check up,” by kennymatic, on Flickr via Creative Commons.)


Our organizations are like the human body. They have organs (processes) which have to work together and perform as planned or else our system will get sick or, in the worst case scenario, die. Internal auditors are able to diagnose the management system’s health by gathering evidence—like a technician doing blood work or taking x-rays—and, like any good doctor, auditors will dig a little (or a lot) deeper when something doesn’t seem quite right in order to find out if there is a real problem or not.

In order to prevent our quality management system from collapsing without notice, it is necessary to perform regular audits—either partial or full system audits—to identify existing or potential problems in a timely manner so we have time to prevent or correct them. Audits are also a good practice when we already know or believe that something is not working 100 percent, just like we go to the doctor when we don’t feel well. In these cases, audits are performed with a very specific purpose and scope.

I hope this simple comparison of audits with doctor visits helps you understand the importance and relevance of internal audits. Take care of your work system as you do with your body, teeth or car. Please don’t let your quality management system die!