Do you know who Sherlock Holmes is in the business world? Yes! Quality Auditors. The enigmatic people who have an eye for detail in checking the quality of products and services by different companies. These inspectors are like guardians of excellence as they check every piece of product for optimal standards and are behind the scenes of every top-notch operation. 

Here, we will go through a thorough yet interesting detail that covers all about quality auditors- including ‘what is a quality auditor?’, roles and responsibilities, job description, skills required to become one, and career prospects. 

What Is Quality Auditing? 

Quality auditing is the process of monitoring and improving all aspects of a quality management system (QMS) through an impartial and systematic inquiry, assessment, and evaluation.

The goal of a quality assurance audit is to determine whether an organization is following the principles and regulations prescribed by the supervisory regulatory body and, more crucially, consumer expectations. 

The Goal Behind Carrying Out Quality Audits 

A quality audit's main goal is to evaluate a business's quality management system's efficacy and compliance with specified standards, laws, and best practices. The procedure serves important functions: 

  • Regulation: Quality audits ensure a business or organization follows applicable laws, regulations, and industry standards. 
  • Quality assurance: Quality audits help ensure that the company continuously provides clients with high-quality goods or services by methodically assessing procedures and systems.
  • Building client satisfaction: Improved customer satisfaction and loyalty are the outcomes of consistently providing high-quality goods and services that result from small, continuous improvements through quality audits.
  • Data-driven decision-making: The results of audits offer useful information and uphold data integrity, which guides future planning, resource allocation, and strategic decisions.
  • Risk reduction: Audits enable preventative action to lessen the impact of risks by identifying possible hazards and weak points in a manufacturer's systems and processes.
  • Continuous improvement: Quality audits serve as a spark for continual process innovation and refinement by pointing out opportunities for improvement.

As a result, a quality audit serves a double function of ensuring standards are met while encouraging ongoing improvement inside an organization.

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Types of Quality Audits 

ISO 19011:2018 defines auditing as a "systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining audit evidence [records, statements of fact or other information that are relevant and verifiable] and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which the audit criteria [a set of policies, procedures or requirements] are fulfilled."

The type of audit conducted depends on the subject being audited, which can be broadly categorized into process, product, and system audits. 

Process Audits

In this audit, a quality auditor checks whether a company's processes follow predefined standards, like the FDA GMP or ISO. As a result, a process audit ensures that processes operate within set parameters.

A certified quality auditor examines the process controls by comparing the company's processes, work instructions, training records, job descriptions, and other documents to the set standards. Process audits can be performed on the complete quality system or specific processes.

The following are what a process audit may cover:

  • Resource Examination and Performance Metrics Analysis: Examine the resources (equipment, materials, and people) used to change inputs into outputs, as well as the environment, processes, and performance metrics.
  • Standard Adherence Assessment: Check for commitment to established standards such as time, precision, temperature, pressure, composition, responsiveness, amperage, and component mixture.
  • Process Control Evaluation: Assess the adequacy and efficacy of process controls developed through procedures, work instructions, flowcharts, training, and process specifications.

Product Audits

Within this type of quality audit, a quality auditor checks if a certain product or service (whether hardware, processed material, or software) meets customer or performance standards. The product will be tested against product specifications, norms of performance, and, most likely, customer requirements to see whether it meets the required product specifications. Product audits are typically performed close to or at the end of the production process.

System Audits

This particular type of quality audit checks that all parts of a quality management system are effective and have been established, implemented, and documented in accordance with the set standards. The auditor will evaluate the company's quality system to verify compliance by comparing processes and policies to regulatory standards and additional contractual commitments. 

Therefore, it consists of the overall regulatory requirements that the business has set and the mutually agreed-upon obligations outlined in contracts between the business and its clients. System audits should be performed at least once a year. An assessment of a management system is done. An audit of the quality management system assesses if the current program satisfies legal requirements, corporate standards, and obligations under contracts.

What Does a Quality Auditor Do?

A certified quality auditor has auditing processes training and qualifications.

  • Guarantees accurate performance following business protocols.
  • Has no direct control over the topics being audited; otherwise, there would be a conflict of interest.
  • Guarantees an impartial and equitable audit assessment and final report.

First-party internal quality audits typically only reveal a problem when insufficiently qualified persons cannot audit the quality department's processes. However, this can be readily fixed by providing someone outside the quality department with further training.

First-Party, Second-Party & Third-Party Audits

The table below precisely explains the difference between the First-Party, Second-Party & Third-Party Audits: 

Aspect

First-Party Audit

Second-Party Audit

Third-Party Audit

Performer

Internal auditors employed by the organization

Customer or contracted organization

Independent audit organization

Purpose

Measure strengths and weaknesses against own procedures or standards

Ensure compliance with customer requirements

Validate compliance with external standards or regulations

Interest

No vested interest in audit results of the area being audited

Audit results may influence customer's purchasing decisions

Independent and free of conflict of interest

Formality

Typically less formal

More formal due to contractual obligations

Generally formal due to certification or regulatory requirements

Influence

Internal improvement and control

Influence on customer-supplier relationship

Certification, recognition, or regulatory compliance

Examples of outcomes

Improved processes or methods

Improvement plans or contract renegotiation

Certification, license approval, penalties

Quality Auditor Job Responsibilities 

Here is a comprehensive list of a quality auditor job duties and responsibilities:

  • Provide support for all facets of the internal audit quality system program, including audit preparation, execution, feedback, and necessary re-audits.
  • Provide training materials for the several stages of the data quality process and pinpoint areas that need instruction, making sure that any gaps are covered in the allotted time.
  • Work together with managers to improve the performance of underperforming employees.
  • Find, estimate, and fix errors and deviations in the quality system process.
  • Set up audits that the management has to have and stage customers.
  • Assist operations by inspecting, tracking, documenting, and reporting quality data for production and inside inspection tasks.
  • Follow instructions from knowledgeable engineers and quality management.
  • Create the necessary paperwork to return goods to suppliers and communicate with engineers and production to find solutions for quality problems.
  • Make use of computerized material movement transactions by methodically relocating components.
  • Examine arriving items and create notices about faulty materials.
  • Ensure job plans, engineering assignments, and specifications are accurate and meet all requirements.
  • Make sure the data provided for the audit of engineering documents and installation quality is accurate.
  • Note the anomalies that need to be corrected, then confirm that the changes adhere to the company standards.
  • Improve quality throughout the entire company and give clients consistent performance.

Quality Auditor Job Description 

Let’s share a sample of a quality auditor job description. It can go as follows: 

We seek a committed Quality Auditor to become a part of our team and continue our heritage of producing goods that meet the highest quality standards. Conducting audits of our manufacturing processes and goods, identifying areas for improvement, and putting quality control measures into place will all be crucial tasks performed by the quality auditor. Furthermore, the Quality Auditor will work closely with our Quality Control team to spearhead projects for ongoing improvement.

Quality Auditor Duties:

  • Establish, put into practice, and evaluate quality management policies and processes to guarantee that the organization complies with legal and client demands. 
  • Perform comprehensive assessments of systems, operations, and organizational processes to find areas that could want modification and enhancement.
  • Assess the efficiency of the risk management, operational, and internal control systems.
  • Create and manage an internal audit plan to ensure operational standards and legal obligations are followed.
  • Create and execute procedures and controls for effectively managing quality processes.
  • Ensure that all policies, processes, and audit findings are properly documented.
  • Help the operations, construction, and project managers execute quality control procedures.
  • Perform scheduled, ad hoc, and surprise quality audits of vendors, subcontractors, and construction sites.

Requirements And Skills:

  • A bachelor's degree in an associated discipline, such as industrial management or engineering.
  • Three years at the very least as a quality assurance inspector.
  • Thorough understanding of scheduling techniques and building code standards.
  • Competence with the concepts and methods of commercial construction.
  • Good interpersonal skills and the capacity to work well with field personnel and contractors.

Skills Required to Become a Quality Auditor 

There are several skills that an individual requires to become a quality editor: 

Analytical Skills

Quality auditors must have good analytical skills to detect issues, discrepancies, and alternatives for improving an organization's or project's quality performance. They should be able to assess the evidence, understand the data, and make decisions using logical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving techniques. They must also be able to evaluate the importance, applicability, and validity of the data they collect using their judgment and experience.

Technical Knowledge

A thorough awareness of the quality standards, procedures, instruments, and strategies relevant to their particular business or sector is essential for quality auditors. They must be acquainted with the applicable quality management systems, such as ISO 9001, and the protocols and procedures followed during audits. They should also be skilled in collecting, analyzing, and presenting data using various high-quality tools, including checklists, Pareto charts, flowcharts, histograms, and root cause analysis.

Obtaining Knowledge Skills

Quality inspectors must adopt a culture of perpetual learning to stay up to date with the latest advancements and changes in their industry. They should be open to updating their knowledge and abilities through education, training, certification, and independent study. They must additionally be receptive to criticism, eager to learn from their errors, and on the lookout for fresh challenges and chances to advance as competent experts.

Communication Skills

Effective communication is essential for quality auditors while interacting with various stakeholders, including management, staff, clients, and outside auditors. They must be able to create accurate and brief audit reports, ask pertinent questions, listen intently, and offer constructive criticism. Additionally, they must be able to modify their tone and manner of speaking to fit the occasion and the auditor's objectives. For example, they ought to be firm and convincing when offering suggestions yet courteous and tactful when handling delicate situations.

Ethical Skills

High ethical standards and integrity are necessary for quality auditors to carry out their tasks neutrally and professionally. Their profession's code of ethics and behavior, such as the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing (IPPF), should be followed. In addition, they must respect the rights, privacy, and confidentiality of the audited parties.

How to Become a Quality Auditor? 

If business operations, systems analysis, or auditing pique your interest, think about pursuing the Certified Quality Auditor CQA credential. If you're an auditor, knowing what qualifications and experience are necessary will help you determine if this is a career you want to pursue.

A combination of education, certification, and work experience—with flexibility in experience and education—is required to become a Certified Quality Auditor CQA. Let's discuss the three essential things.

Education

CQA requires a high school diploma or GED equivalency, trade or technical program completion, or a bachelor's or master's degree in accounting, finance, business management, operations, economics, accounting, and auditing.

Work Experience

CQA requires eight years of auditing experience, but academic degrees can lower the requirement. A master's degree can waive five years, requiring only three years. The same applies to bachelor's, associate, or high school diplomas. The requirements include the following: 

  • Diploma + 7 years of relevant work experience
  • Associate degree + 6 years of relevant work experience
  • Bachelor's degree + 4 years of relevant work experience
  • Master's degree + 3 years of relevant work experience

Certification

Prior to taking certification examinations, the American Society for Quality (ASQ) requires professional experience and necessary education. Both the ASQ code of ethics and the application fee are mandatory. Having this qualification can help you grow in the field and be eligible for several roles.

Different quality auditor certifications include the following:

Certification

Description

Six Sigma Green Belt

Identify the area of concern where the problems lie and formulate rational solutions that can enhance total quality management.

Six Sigma Black Belt

Lead various project teams and manage the entire process lifecycle with high accountability. They can act as a principal consultant to the project team members.

CQIA (Quality Improvement Associate)

Proficient in utilizing quality tools and actively engages in quality enhancement initiatives.

CQT (Quality Technician)

Responsible for developing inspection plans, conducting analyses, resolving issues, training personnel, and implementing statistical methods for process control.

CQPA (Quality Process Analyst)

Skilled in identifying and resolving quality issues and actively contributing to quality enhancement projects.

CQA (Quality Auditor)

Analyzes various aspects of quality systems and assesses their compliance with industrial management standards and quality control systems.

The ASQ administers the five-and-a-half-hour, open-book Certified Quality Auditor (CQA) exam, which covers audit basics, processes, competencies, program management, and quality tools. If you fail the first time, you can retake the exam in two years. It is available both in-person and online. Becoming a CQA requires passing the ASQ Certified Quality Auditor test.

Career Prospects for Quality Auditors 

Quality auditing or compliance roles require excellent attention to detail, identifying problems and risk factors to reduce and resolve, and offering promising career prospects for individuals with these skills. Some of these career prospects are discussed below:

Career

Experience Level

Average Salary

Description

Qualification Needed

Health and Safety Manager

2-5 Years

$117,000

Responsible for managing all WHS requirements, ensuring compliance with relevant laws, and often overseeing multiple employees and departments within larger organizations.

Certification in WHS or related field, Experience

Quality Manager

2-5 Years

$98,000

Oversees all quality processes, procedures, and programs, ensuring standards exceed governmental requirements and match company quality standards. May manage a team of quality professionals, assess compliance, and engage with customers for feedback.

Certification in quality management, Experience

Internal Auditor

2-5 Years

$71,000

Provides evaluations to businesses on quality processes and standards, recommends improvements, and ensures compliance. Often employed independently or considered independent of the company for unbiased auditing.

Certification in auditing, Experience

Compliance Coordinator

Less than 2 Years

$68,000

Collects and assesses data, writes reports, and makes recommendations to improve compliance standards and processes.

Certification in compliance, Entry-level experience

Quality Assurance Coordinator

Less than 2 Years

$69,000

Improves business quality processes, conducts inspections, and proposes solutions to quality issues.

Certification in quality assurance, Entry-level experience

Quality Inspector

No Experience

$60,000

Conducts product reviews to ensure compliance with industry and company standards, runs quality tests, writes reports, and identifies risks.

High school diploma, Training in quality inspection

Compliance Officer

No Experience

$66,000

Performs auditing, staff training, financial compliance, and risk assessment and stays updated with relevant legislation.

Bachelor's degree preferred, Entry-level experience

Wrapping Up

Simplilearn provides the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Training program, ideal for quality management professionals seeking to advance their careers and obtain their Six Sigma Green Belt Certification. This course has been matched with the IASSC test to ensure that it prepares you to manage challenging projects and use Six Sigma techniques with ease. Watch the introduction video or talk to our advisor now!

FAQs

1. How often should a quality audit be conducted?

It is good to conduct quality audits at least once every year or more often if there are any important changes.

2. What are the most common findings in quality audits?

Financial reporting, compliance, or the structure or performance of internal controls are all common audit findings.

3. How can a company prepare for an external quality audit?

A company can prepare for an external audit by learning the rules, educating employees, keeping accurate records, and putting procedures in place for ongoing development.

4. What is the salary of a quality auditor in India?

The average annual salary for a Quality Auditor in India is ₹4,48,412, with an additional cash compensation of ₹32,000, ranging from ₹25,000 to ₹1,00,000.

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