There is often confusion about the difference between audits and inspections. The purpose of each may seem the same, but they are slightly different. Audits focus on why, while inspections focus on what. The purpose of an audit is to get the confidence that processes are working well. An audit involves various layers to answer a “why” question. It involves exploratory reviews involving documentation, risk assessments, and nonconformities, etc. While an audit may need more effort in finding an answer, an inspection is less complicated. The answer to an inspection question will involve a straightforward yes or no answer.
Inspections focus more on the action, while audits are about the process. Inspections review a single point in time, but an audit follows a process from start to finish. An inspection simply looks at the product or service. The process of an inspection is quite simple, it either clears the project if it meets the requirements specification or rejects it. If it is rejected, its loss can be reworked at an extra cost. Inspections must be conducted at every step to minimize the chances of product failure.
Why are audits and inspections important to an organization? Inspections deal with things that cause immediate accidents or other issues. Inspections protect the customer, so the customer is not harmed by a non-conforming product yet from an organization’s point of view that they are too late. The audit is to cover the root cause of these problems. The audits provide the input and ensure continuous improvement and it is where we take on nonconformities.
Here at QMII, we provide valuable information when it comes to our auditing services. We can give insight on where your system is working well as well as the risks and suggest opportunities for improvement. QMII’s audit services reduce the fear of an audit. Some individuals fear being blamed for non-conformities and often dread the idea of an audit. Our services are to ensure auditees are put at ease while QMII auditors look to find the effectiveness of controls in the system.
Although there is often confusion when differentiating audits and inspections, it can be easier to think of it as the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. Inspections are a “do” while audits are a “check.” Inspections are required to do, and the audits are the process of checking and making sure inspections have been done.