Everything You Need to Know About an ISO Audit

by Elina D

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has established guidelines that companies must adhere to. An ISO audit proves that an organisation complies with the set guidelines. The ISO’s guidelines study and report a company’s standards regarding control quality, regulated practices, and stance on global issues, such as information security. 

ISO Audit

Upon clearing ISO auditing, an organisation receives a green light, and an ISO certification is proof of the company’s compliance with ISO standards. An ISO certification is a certificate of authentication and reliability, informing your customers of your brand, values, and transparency. During ISO auditing, a company’s effectiveness is measured, and the assigned auditor verifies the organisation’s management system, internal regulations, process status, and scope for improvement.

What ISO Standards Apply to Information Security?

QMS 9001 , ISO 9001

ISO standard 27001, also known as ISO 27001, is the set audit standard for information security that performs an audit on information security management systems (ISMS). ISO 27001 scales an organisation’s information security by monitoring its employees, processes, and procedures.
Objectives of ISO 27001
There are four primary objectives of ISO standards for information security:

  • Authorisation: ISO 27001 checks whether confidential and vulnerable data is protected against unauthorised access.
  • Permission: Only authorised people should be allowed to change a company’s data — public or sensitive.
  • Accessibility: An organisation’s information should be readily accessible if and when required.
  • ISMS Enhancement: Companies should implement risk management protocols, including staff training, processes, and software, to prevent and combat information security breaches.

Importance of ISO 27001 Certification

ISO 27001 framework consists of a set of rules and policies to protect a company’s information effectively and cost-efficiently, regardless of the organisation’s size. Receiving an ISO 27001 certification benefits organisations in multiple ways:

  • Certification: ISO 27001 confirms a company’s security practices and ensures its customers’ data and files are safe and protected.
  • Business Expansion: Since the ISO is an internationally recognised body, its standards, including ISO 27001, are also globally acknowledged, allowing companies to grow their business.
  • Cost-Efficiency: Security leaks not only harm sensitive files but also cost money. With an ISO certification, businesses get the assurance that their ISMS system is up-to-date, saving them money and resources.
  • Competitive Environment: An ISO 27001 certification gives a company an edge over its competitors, as the certificate proves it has a solid and safeguarded information system.

What is an ISO Audit Checklist?

An ISO auditing checklist (ISO 9001) provides regulations for quality management systems (QMS), such as maintaining management systems, operation servers, goods, and services. It consists of a checklist in the form of questions about a company’s quality management status and audit process reports. An ISO 9001 mainly focuses on:

  • Customers
  • Management values and quality
  • Managing quality through an organised framework
  • Potential and room for improvement

Categories of ISO 9001

The ISO 9001 checklist follows seven criteria to determine if a company qualifies for an ISO 9001 certification:

  • Company’s brand and industry
  • Senior management
  • Process planning
  • Support system
  • Operational status
  • Performance report
  • Areas of improvement

How to Receive an ISO 9001 Certification

ISO Audit

 Receiving an ISO certification might be challenging but not impossible. To increase their chances of getting ISO 9001’s approval, companies should focus on their upper management, the scope for improvement, internal communication, and audit schedules.

  • Upper Management: One of the key factors determining an organisation’s ISO 9001 certification is the senior or upper management. Leadership positions, such as the CEO, head of departments, senior management leader, internal audit managers, and head strategist, build connections and networks with investors and stakeholders. Before applying for an ISO 9001 certification, upper management personnel should present a report on their budget, business’ future, available resources, external support, and project timeline.
  • Scope for Improvement: ISO 9001 standards check a company’s certification scope. Therefore, presenting a layout of project goals, scheduled changes, time frames, gap analysis, and financial infrastructure will help organisations strengthen areas that show growth potential.
  • Internal Communication: Communicating with staff members and training them on QMS regulations and policies during the on boarding process allows companies to maintain their quality management system up to ISO standards.
  • Creating Audit Schedules: Audit plans develop and organise department and business actions. Curating a comprehensive audit schedule enables companies to gauge the status of their QMS and identify and rectify threats.

What is an Internal ISO Audit?

An internal ISO audit is a structured process that acquires and monitors information measuring a company’s operations and regulatory compliance. Internal audits evaluate the procedures and resources required to obtain an ISO certification and decide if a company is showing its full potential and can grow and expand in the future.

Criteria of ISO Internal Audits

Internal audits track a company’s progress and success rate and should follow essential criteria to obtain an unbiased and accurate report.

  • No Bias: Internal audits should be conducted with an objective goal. Personal vendettas, judgement, and preconceived notions against a company member or department should not interfere with internal auditing.
  • Maintain Confidentiality: Since auditors have access to company information, including employees’ details and client data, internal auditors should maintain confidentiality and safeguard sensitive files.
  • Audit Planning: Audits should be organised and planned with the utmost discretion and thoroughness to avoid last-minute confusion and misinformation.
  • Reporting: Every internal audit session should be recorded and documented correctly. A proper audit record serves as proof of internal audits and allows companies to improve their strategies according to previous audit documents.

Objectives of Internal Audits

ISO 27001 , ISMS 27001

Internal audits evaluate a company’s risk management and practices per ISO standards and generate reports on various organisation practices that allow companies to grow and improve, such as:

  • Internal system status
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Loss reduction and profit increases
  • Collection of relevant information
  • Data management
  • Customer feedback

What is an ISO Certification Audit?

An ISO certification audit is proof of an organisation’s productivity and compliance with ISO standards. Certification audits usually follow two steps:

Remote Evaluation

Remote evaluations are a quick assessment of an organisation’s procedures and processes to determine if the company passes the basic certification requirements and is fit for a more thorough evaluation.

Onsite Evaluation

Onsite evaluation includes talking to employees and staff members and reviewing company data and documents, such as financial records, system checks, and information security analysis.

What is an ISO Surveillance Audit?

An ISO surveillance audit is the scheduled and routine analysis of an organisation’s QMS and ISMS to ensure they meet the set ISO standards. ISO surveillance audits are held for two consecutive years after an organisation has received an ISO 27001 or ISO 9001 certification. Companies with ISO certifications can use their certificates for three years before re-applying for certification. Surveillance audits assist companies in preparing for second audit rounds to receive the new certifications.

What is an ISO Auditor’s Training?

An ISO auditor’s training is a course that prepares companies to improve and enhance their QMS and ISMS. The training course equips staff members with the necessary knowledge and tools to maintain internal systems, evaluate audits, make audit plans, and conduct period audit sessions. Auditor training courses focus on topics that increase an organisation’s chances of applying for and receiving ISO certifications, including:

● Management system analysis
● Basics of audits
● Audit processes
● ISO 9001
● Conducting audits
● Documenting audits

Final Thoughts

An ISO audit evaluates and checks if organisations comply with the set standards that create a framework for business practices. ISO audits monitor a company’s quality management system and internal systems before giving them their ISO certifications.