ISO management system third-party auditors hold a very essential role as they are responsible for evaluating if an organization’s management system is in conformance with the requirements of a specific ISO standard.
An auditor’s soft skills are increasingly acknowledged as being crucial to an audit’s overall effectiveness, even though the technical abilities of an auditor have long been in demand in the digital age.
The range of necessary abilities and personal qualities that define an auditor’s professional performance is expanding at a rapid rate. Here are some of the key qualities that auditors should bring to the table:
Good Quality #1: Professionalism & Integrity
Integrity is an important quality in many disciplines and professions, as it demonstrates one’s ability to work to the best of their abilities and act on their convictions.
Auditors who have integrity are trustworthy, dependable, and respectful individuals. They do not compromise their morals for convenience or personal benefit.
Given the significance of the work they do and the trust the auditee and other interested parties have in them, auditors should take reasonable caution. The capacity to make informed decisions in various audit situations is crucial for performing their duties with the appropriate level of professionalism.
As stated in the ISO 19011: 2018 Guidelines for auditing management systems, integrity is the foundation of professionalism, and auditors and the individual(s) managing an audit program should work ethically, honestly, and responsibly. They should also only engage in audit-related activities if they are qualified to do so.
Furthermore, professional auditors should maintain confidentiality at all times, ensuring that the organization’s sensitive information remains secure.
Good Quality #2: Knowledge & Expertise
Auditors should be consistent in the work that they do, but consistency is also required in their methods. Understanding what methods are genuinely appropriate requires knowledge of industry-specific common practices and general expectations. Therefore, a good auditor should have extensive knowledge and expertise in ISO management system standards, audit methodologies, and audit techniques.
While each audit should be customized to the unique objectives of the client, it should still follow a standard, systematic process that includes planning, understanding, gathering, and reporting. This helps everyone involved work more effectively while also setting clear expectations.
Good Quality #3: Objectivity & Impartiality
Sticking to the facts, following the evidence, and assuming an event will be truer to life the more proof it has are all examples of objectivity. Good auditors are always impartial and objective in their assessments of ISO management system standards, regardless of personal or organizational biases or preferences.
The impartiality of the auditor’s judgment is referred to as audit objectivity. This is accomplished by having the necessary knowledge and expertise to appraise a situation objectively.
ISO 19011:2018 presents independence, one of the principles of auditing, as the basis for the impartiality of the audit and the objectivity of the audit conclusions.
“Auditors should be independent of the activity being audited wherever practicable, and should in all cases act in a manner that is free from bias and conflict of interest. For internal audits, auditors should be independent from the function being audited if practicable. Auditors should maintain objectivity throughout the audit process to ensure that the audit findings and conclusions are based only on the audit evidence.”
Good Quality #4: Communication Skills & Interpersonal Skills
Producing well-written reports alone is no longer adequate. There needs to be a dialogue with the rest of the organization. Thus, in auditing, communication is crucial. Good auditors need to be conscious of how their demeanor affects auditees. They need to be excellent listeners and communicators.
Moreover, the role of the auditor must be seen as one that goes beyond that of an investigator. A competent auditor will be able to effectively communicate their thoughts and ideas to audit clients and executives during meetings, presentations, and interviews.
When it comes to getting the facts they need, auditors should not sound harsh or patronizing. Having a welcoming, helpful approach lowers obstacles and increases the likelihood that someone will help and be more cooperative, which results in a more effective and accurate audit.
Good Quality #5: Skepticism & Curiosity
Professional skepticism must be used when conducting audits. An auditor must assess the validity of the audit evidence acquired with an open mind and a critical eye.
Audits uncover issues that need to be resolved and having a healthy dose of skepticism can help auditors properly identify areas where an organization might need improvement. A good auditor’s inquisitive mind can help them uniquely analyze facts and convey their results.
Good auditors leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of a comprehensive audit. They possess strong analytical thinking skills, allowing them to evaluate the evidence collected during the audit and identify areas for improvement.
Skepticism necessitates the moral will to forgo shortcuts and revisit audit components if anything seems off. Auditors who are doubtful will carefully trace the chain of audit evidence and question themselves about whether they are getting the true picture or if they are missing something.
How to improve auditing skills
While a great ISO management system auditor possesses a range of essential qualities, there is always room for improvement. Here are some tips for auditors looking to improve their auditing skills:
- Stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the industry and with the constantly evolving ISO management system standards. Attend training courses and seminars, read industry-related research and publications, and network with other auditors to stay informed about the latest trends and practices.
- Develop communication skills by practicing active listening, asking relevant questions, and delivering feedback clearly and concisely.
- Learn from mistakes by taking time to reflect on what went well and what could have gone better.
- Seek feedback from the auditee on the audit process and ask other auditors or the third-party certification bodies that you work with for feedback on your performance. This can help identify areas for improvement.
- Stay objective by identifying your own biases and developing strategies for staying objective during the audit process.
- Continuously seek opportunities to improve your auditing skills, and work on implementing those improvements in your future audits.
By continuing to develop your skills and expertise, you can advance your career as an auditor and make an even greater impact on the organizations you work with.
MSECB’s Network of Auditors!
At MSECB, we pride ourselves on our network of highly qualified and skilled ISO management system auditors. We offer audit and certification services for many ISO management system standards and by providing experienced, knowledgeable, and skillful auditors to our clients, we guarantee that the certification audit will run smoothly. As our clients’ experiences attest, we deliver on our promises.
Moreover, if you are looking for an auditor who possesses all of the qualities that we mentioned above, contact us today to learn more about how we can help your organization achieve its goals.