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How involved should the internal auditor be in the implementation of corrective actions?

03 June 2015
​One of the key differences between an internal auditor and an external auditor is the fact that the internal auditor can effectively act as an internal consultant.

The internal auditor has the liberty to support and coach auditees, responsible supervisors and managers on addressing corrective actions, identifying root cause, responsibility and implementing immediate and long term corrective actions on findings from internal audits.

The extent of this involvement will however vary from organisation to organisation based on some of the factors below.

  • The maturity of the quality management systems
  • The QMS competence of auditee/responsible supervisor/manager
  • QMS knowhow and coaching skills of the internal auditor

It is of little benefit for the internal auditor to assist in carrying out corrective actions where the auditee or responsible manager is capable of effectively implementing corrective actions. In fact there is the argument that the internal auditor should instruct with corrective action only when they are not involved with verifying the effectiveness of this action, True!

But for organisation’s where the overall knowhow is not yet fully established; there is no rule that precludes the internal auditor supporting the corrective action process as required.

However, like any developing management system it will be expected that this support will reduce over time until responsible personnel are capable not only of addressing the non-conformities but effectively documenting and where appropriate reporting and closing it out with the internal auditor.

Where the system is mature, the internal auditor might strike the pose of the external auditor; identify the issues and responsibility; clarify and explain to responsible personnel; such that they are clear on the action expected.

He/she may then take back seat, confident in the fact that responsible personnel is well capable of taking and documenting action; the auditor may then return at an agreed timeframe to verify and close out the identified finding. Even this process of verification and closing out requires some level of consultation and clarification.

Internal auditing in many respects is a consultancy exercise!

Written by:  (Quality and Food Safety Management Systems Consultant, Auditor and Trainer)