A question I was asked when we launched our new Inspection Manager module was: How is an inspection different to an audit?
Below are five key differences between an inspection and an audit.
1) Inspections focus on what, audits focus on why
“Are the fire extinguishers where they should be?” is a very different question to “Who owns fire safety management?”.
The first is a binary question which will get a straightforward "yes / no" response. This is an inspection.
The second has various layers. It requires exploratory reviews involving risk assessments, training records, documentation, supplier reviews, equipment analysis, nonconformities etc. This is an audit.
The different types of questions require tools to match.
Qualsys’s Inspection Manager application enables organisations to plan, manage and report on high volumes of inspections. Whereas Audit Manager is designed for management system reviews. Workflows in Audit Manager facilitates cross-departmental collaboration for complex decision making.
Inspections are 'Do'
Audits are 'Check'
2) Inspections focus on an action, audits are the process
Inspections review a single point in time. Audits follow a process from start to finish. For example, an audit of new business may consider:
- Existing customer lifetime value
- Existing customer satisfaction and feedback
- Marketing process
- Sales roles
- Customer lifetime journey
An inspection may check the process is being completed to plan at set intervals.
Internal audits can be incredibly expensive. They take vast amounts of time, energy and resource.
In an IIA survey of medium and large sized organisations, nearly 70% of internal audit assignments take more than 15 days to compile.
3) Inspections are quantitative, audits are qualitative
If you’re a multi-site or large facility, you’ll be doing hundreds of inspections. Audit explore details and complexities. Many questions can't be answered with a simple yes or no.
4) Inspections are simple, audits are complex
This is a bit of a generalisation. However, inspections tend to be much more straightforward than an audit. In an inspection, you may check the lightbulbs are all there. If they aren’t, the action is to get more lightbulbs. In an audit, you might be exploring why the lightbulbs were missing.
5) Inspections create actions, audits create recommendations
Inspections usually produce straightforward actions. In an audit there are recommendations to review. The average internal audit report contains 6- 10 recommendations.
Steve Waring, W. E. Rawson
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