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Tips for Surviving and Passing An ISO 9001 Audit

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Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. - Dale Carnegie

We all have our doubts and fears of being audited.  This past week I had the opportunity experience the ISO9001:2008 re-registration process with our third party auditor and learned that the process is not to be feared but rather embraced.  Since this was my first experience being audited, my fears were from not knowing what to expect.  Here is what I did to prepare, how it went, and what I learned from the process:


  • Know the standards - This is what the third party auditor will reference for quality management system requirements.  I used this as a reference point.
  • Prepare employees for the audit -  I put together this list for all employees to review.  Since the auditor will not only audit management, but all processes, communicating with everyone is important to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Get organized - The single most important part of preparation is organization. Be organized! Know where to find documents and records you use on a daily basis and remove those you don’t. Having a cluttered desk and or facility impedes the ability of the auditor get to the core issues of your process.


  • Opening meeting – Our management team and the auditor met to go over our management review meeting notes and quality objectives.  During this meeting the auditor discussed his role and the schedule of events for the audit week.
  • Audit of processes and QMS - After the opening meeting came to a close we dove into each process in our operation using the audit schedule as a guide. Some of our processes reviewed took much less time than scheduled, and some took more time. This step is the main event of the audit, and also where we gained the most insight on what we were doing well and what could be improved.
  • Closing Meeting – A summary of the audit was reviewed with management and the recommendation of the auditor to continue registration was made. 


Since this was our third three-year re-registration, we did not have any major issues to address.  We could, however, have been more organized and more educated on the standards to inform our auditor more fluently.

My advice for those new to the ISO 9001 registration or audit process is to learn as much as you can, and follow the advice of the auditor. While the process can be intimidating your first time it is well worth the time and money invested if you survive the audit with not only a positive recommendation, but also renewed focus on effectiveness, objectivity, and quality. 

What do you do to prepare for and pass your ISO Audit?

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