What happens if you fail an ISO audit?

Failing an ISO audit can be daunting, but it opens opportunities for improvement. Learn common reasons for audit failures and the steps to recover, ensuring compliance and strengthening your Quality Management System.
What happens if you fail an ISO audit?

Failing a task or test can be discouraging as you may start to worry that worse things might happen. If you fail an ISO audit, you may face the risk of certified status removal. External audits reveal major non-conformances that the organisation needs to address.

Sometimes it may detect issues with the quality management system you were unaware of. If you have failed an audit, take that as an opportunity to improve compliance and follow the right steps to ensure you get back on course.

Reasons for a failed ISO audit

The internal and external audits will highlight the areas that require improvement. Therefore it is essential to carefully read the audit report to see what is recommended. Some of the common reasons for a failed audit include:

  • ISO changes – Although updates and changes are rare, they do happen. After a change, organisations have three years to comply with the new requirements. Some companies may run out of time or lack the knowledge to meet these requirements.
  • Loss of key personnel – If the employees responsible for implementing ISO standards retire or leave, they may leave compliance gaps. This is common when the company fails to fill the position with a new employee or when a handover isn’t conducted.
  • Incomplete qualification records
  • Lack of objectives and targets
  • Management reviews

Download our free ISO Gap Analysis Checklists to prepare for your audit.

What to do next?

Recovering from a failed audit is not complicated. You only need to take time to perform a corrective action. The certification body will provide you with enough time to correct the areas pointed out by the audit and find proof of the corrections made.

Suppose the audit report reveals that you have weak internal controls. You need to address the situation by discussing how to strengthen internal controls and document the new procedures with the team or management. It would be best if you communicated with your team because lack of communication can contribute to an audit failure.

The auditor will evaluate the evidence and change the audit status to “compliant.” An audit failure opens doors for continual improvement, but it should not happen frequently. Regular audit failures reveal that your organisation has inadequate or incomplete quality management system policies and procedures.

After a failed audit, you should conduct an internal review of your company’s systems. This should be done across all departments in the organisation. Reviewing your systems frequently allows you to identify and correct minor non-conformities before they worsen. It is essential to communicate any updates or changes, or you risk being non-compliant in the future. An internal audit is also an excellent way to prepare for the ISO audit.

Get assistance from Citation Certification

Corrective action and internal audits are great ways to prevent failed audits. At Citation Certification, we offer a wide selection of training options to prepare your organisation for ISO certification. Whether you require ISO 9001, ISO 14001, or ISO 45001, we’re here to ensure you obtain certification. Contact us today to discover more about our services.

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