Elements of an effective internal audit program

How to prepare your internal audit program

Surprisingly, an internal audit program does not just consist of a schedule stating when internal audits will be completed in your business. It is so much more than that! In this post find out the elements, at a minimum, that should be included in your internal audit program

Elements of an internal audit program

There are six (6) key areas that should make up your internal audit program. These include an introduction, strategy, resources, planning and preparation, implementation and reporting. Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

1. Introduction

The introduction of your internal audit program should firstly outline the purpose of the internal audit program. Secondly, the requirement for an internal audit or ‘the why’. You can tie this back to the requirements of a third-party certification or regulation. Finally, nominate who will be responsible for the internal audit program.

2. Internal Audit Strategy

It is important to develop an internal audit strategy to outline how any internal audits will be managed, delivered and developed. This strategy should align directly to your organization’s overall strategies, objectives and risks.

3. Internal Audit Resources

Internal audit resources encompass not only human resources, but also financial resources. The budget allocated to completing internal audits should be aligned the internal audit strategy.

This section should also outline details of the internal audit team, their qualifications and ongoing training requirements.

4. Planning and Preparation

The planning and preparation part of your internal audit program will need to be comprehensive. It will include documents like the internal audit schedule, audit tools eg. Checklists and audit plan templates. Don’t forget to include corresponding procedures.

5. Undertaking internal audits

All procedures relating to completing or undertaking internal audits are required to be documented. This includes both the initial audit and any follow-up audits. Some example procedures are:

  • Audit methodology
  • Conducting opening and closing meetings
  • Recording objective evidence
  • How to complete the audit report
  • Identifying non-conformances

6. Reporting

The final area is reporting. Templates for reporting internal audit findings helps to maintain consistency between different auditors and areas audited. You can also reference procedures on corrective action.

External Partnerships

One of the key requirements in most third-party standards and food safety regulations is that whoever completes the internal audit is independent of the area being audited.  If this is not something that your food business can effectively achieve, consider using an external food safety consultant who has the relevant skills and qualifications in auditing.

Internal Auditing Training

If you are looking to learn more about internal auditing or to refresh your current level of knowledge please check out HACCP Mentor’s Effective Internal Auditing online course.

Share your thoughts

Is your internal audit program this comprehensive? Can you suggest any internal auditing tips? Share your thoughts with the HACCP Mentor community by leaving a comment below this post.


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