An internal product quality audit is a way to stay on top of any existing problems and initiate changes without having external audit recommendations. No matter how closely your industry is supervised, showing the effort to self-audit will go a long way towards keeping good relations with all external auditing agencies. Below are the five steps needed to conduct a successful product quality audit.
1. Initial Phase
The first part of doing an internal audit is to make the decision that you want to do an audit. This seems simpler on paper than in reality. This will have to involve everyone from the president or CEO to department heads, managers, and supervisors. The amount of coordination can seem extraordinary. It is wise to have human resources or other administrative level employee designated as the head of the process.
2. Preparation for an Audit
Preparing for the audit is nearly as critical as the performance itself. There needs to be a great deal of coordination with all involved parties. It needs to be scheduled during a time that is not in direct conflict with large product order fulfillment. There is much paperwork that can be done ahead of time, which will leave the note taking, observations and measurements for audit day. You will need to locate the dates of last equipment inspection and whether there have been any recent on-site calibration services used. Determination of quality needs to be deferred to the date of the audit. Reschedule if any of these seems to be a problem for the day chosen. It is better to adjust the day than struggle and get poor results based on a lack of being prepared.
3. Performing the Audit
The product quality audit will study every aspect of the product manufacture process from start to finish. You will look at how sensible the product handling is, the calibration of the machines and see if the results are in compliance with the mandated quality desired. It is a thorough look at how each department flows together to create an end product that is of high quality.
4. Reporting the Findings
All findings and recommendations need to be written up in a report that can be distributed to each department and the head of the company for inspection. Be as thorough as possible with each area that was observed and tested. Be as truthful as possible so that any flaws can be remedied.
5. Taking Corrective Actions
Corrective actions can be as simple as a change in the way raw materials are handled, how various departments interact, getting on-site calibration services to look at equipment that seems off or better designs in packaging. The goal is to improve the overall quality of every product manufactured by the company.
Although internal audits cannot be used to satisfy outside governmental auditing requirements, the resulting changes made for improvements will be helpful. Make internal product quality audits a regular task.