IAF Internal Audit Process – a New Approach
by Pedro Castro Alves, IAF Quality Manager

The IAF Executive Committee established, some time ago, the effective implementation of the internal audit process as one of the priorities for the IAF quality management system.

 

Being aware that a conventional approach to internal audit activities may not be adequate to the IAF organizational structure, working procedures and voluntary nature of members’ participation, a flexible internal audit process, with a global organizational scope and a clear focus on “what is really needed” instead of “what would be nice to have”, was defined, documented and approved.

 

The related internal procedure (QMS-002) was approved at the beginning of 2017 and tested during the year’s Technical Committee proceedings in Frankfurt and Vancouver. The main goal was to fully implement the related activities for 2018 onwards.

 

The internal audit procedure is simple and includes a typical approach to internal audit activities. This procedure was established to support the planning, preparation, realization, reporting and follow up of internal audits, aiming for an impartial and objective process to systematically determine the effective implementation and operation of the IAF structure, the compliance to IAF policies, rules, procedures and criteria, as defined in the reference documents, and to propose opportunities for improvement.

 

The procedure is to be applicable to the IAF organizational structure, focusing on permanent committees, and shall be implemented by a pool of auditors, constituted by nominated representatives of the IAF members, on a voluntary basis.

 

To support IAF internal audit teams, some specific tools were prepared, notably a set of checklists, addressing all IAF permanent committees. The concept approach behind the definition of such tools is quite unique and was designed to accommodate IAF’s nature and organization, as well as providing a flexible foundation for operational activities.

 

The cornerstone was not to focus exclusively on the permanent committee’s meetings, but to consider the wider committee’s work flow, in all its magnitude and significance, and using results and feedback as input to future auditing activities (see figure I).

 

Figure I – IAF’s internal audit conceptual approach

 

Whilst “defining structure and organization” and “furthering on from the outcome” are general issues that apply identically to all permanent committees, “implementing the work model” is mostly specific to each one of the committees, thus allowing for a “non-invasive” view in accordance to their exclusive structure, scope or applicable procedures (see figure II).

 

Figure II – Extract of the IAF’s internal audit checklist (Development Support Committee)

 

The audit results from 2018 activities will be collected, reviewed by the Quality Management Task Force and discussed within the Executive Committee during the 2019 mid-term meetings in Mexico. The internal audit outcome will then be included in the management review exercise for 2018 and presented during the General Assembly.

 

The IAF Quality Management Task Force and the IAF Quality Manager want to express its recognition for the dedicated cooperation from the IAF Secretariat, the Committee Chairs and, naturally, the IAF internal audit pool members.

 

A new call for internal auditors took place during the last IAF General Assembly in Singapore and applications were immediately received, clearly showing that Members’ interest for this fundamental activity did not diminish. All interested persons are again asked to step forward, knowing that their contribution will be highly appreciated and valued.