by Shannon MacFarlane
In companies where internal process auditing is a part-time responsibility, auditor development is often low on the priority list. Additionally, because these employees function as part-time auditors, they don’t have opportunities to practice their skills on a daily basis. Before an organization can implement an auditor development program, however, it must first “determine the necessary competence for personnel performing work affecting conformity to product requirements” (ISO 9001:2008, 6.2.2 a). The same standards of competence and development the internal auditors use to evaluate the organization also apply to the internal audit team.
Without criteria for competence, it’s difficult to evaluate performance. Ironically, many organizations haven’t identified the capabilities required for the internal audit function. Documenting the experience, skills, and abilities necessary to fulfill audit responsibilities, whether full- or part-time, may help the audit manager to evaluate and develop the members of the internal audit team. The key competencies from these job descriptions can be the basis for performance appraisals or reviews.
Our internal auditors are categorized by auditor level and experience. The combination of level and experience dictates the necessary competencies, which are included in the annual formal evaluation process. Each auditor completes a self evaluation and provides feedback for each audit team member. We maintain these data in Excel and review performance over time.
We market internal auditing as a development opportunity with growth potential. Members of the team understand their current auditor levels and the requirements necessary to advance to the next level are documented in the training manual. Currently, we have eight levels of auditors, ranging from no experience to mentoring other auditors. (See figure 1.) Each team member is also categorized by experience level, as shown in figure 2. For example, a level 4 auditor who has completed seven audits at that level will have different expectations than a level 5 auditor who is participating in his or her first audit at that level.
Figure 1: Auditor development–Eight levels of auditors
|2||Shadows auditors at level 4 or higher|
|3||Works under supervision of auditor at level 6 or higher|
|4||Audits without supervision|
|5||Leads team under supervision of auditor at level 6 or higher|
|6||Leads team without supervision|
|7||Mentors and trains auditors under supervision of auditor at level 8|
|8||Mentors and trains auditors|
Figure 2: Auditor development–Five levels of auditor experience
Regardless of level and experience, each auditor is evaluated in seven categories of competence using a ten-point scale, as illustrated in figure 3. Auditors at level 5 and above are also evaluated for their leadership capabilities. A list of categories and their specific aspects are listed in figure 4.
Figure 3: Auditor development–Performance scale
|1||Meets no criteria|
|2||Meets few criteria|
|3||Meets some criteria|
|4||Meets many criteria|
|5||Meets most criteria|
|6||Meets all criteria|
|7||Exceeds few criteria|
|8||Exceeds some criteria|
|9||Exceeds most criteria|
|10||Exceeds all criteria|
Figure 4: Auditor development–Performance evaluation categories
Internal audit process
Previous audit reports
Previous corrective and preventive actions
Review root cause analysis
Review and closure
Once collected, data from the self assessment and evaluation from team members are graphed and reviewed. As the audit manager, I review the results with each auditor. We discuss how well the auditor realized his or her performance goals from the current year and what additional skills, training, education, or experience he or she may need to realize goals for the future. An auditor who eventually wants to lead a team is able to review the documented requirements for that position and compare those with his or her current performance. We can then develop an auditor development plan to achieve that goal. Auditors who wish to continue serving at their current levels are welcome to do so but also receive feedback on their performance. The results of the evaluation are shared with the auditor’s daily supervisor.
This method of performance management provides structure and direction for part-time audit staff. In addition, it provides assurance to the daily supervisors of part-time auditors that their time is productively spent in auditor development activities. This results in a partnership between the audit function and the company that encourages the participation of employees in the audit process. By applying the same principles we expect to see when we audit the work of the organization, we build trust in our auditors’ competence.
About the author
Shannon MacFarlane is a quality specialist for Totem Ocean Trailer Express Inc.